This is for you, take it.
On the night he was betrayed,
he took bread and gave you thanks and praise.
He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said,
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.
When supper was ended he took the cup.
Again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples, and said,
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.
from the Third Eucharistic Prayer
I invite you to think of the people who have given you things, people who said to you, ‘This is for you, take it.’ You may be surprised by the memories that come back to you. They may be from your childhood, or from recent times. What you were given may have been big or small. What is likely to touch you is the generosity and unselfishness of the one who gave, especially if you had not done anything to deserve it.
When any one of us thinks about it, we may become aware of many small acts of generosity that people do for us – family members and friends – that we hardly notice and take for granted. In our childhood we depended completely on our parents or guardians to provide for us: to put food on the table, to buy new clothes and shoes and school books, and to give us whatever money they allowed us to spend. They gave us more than the material things: they gave us their time and energy. They taught us to do all sorts of things: playing games or musical instruments or riding a bike. They may have helped us with our home work. We may remember grand-parents, aunts and uncles, neighbours, teachers and even strangers who surprised us by the generosity to us in childhood or in later years. They gave and did not ask for payment.
Generosity inspires us where ever we see it, and even more so when it is heroic. After the devastating earthquake in Japan more than fifty Japanese technicians made an all-out effort to prevent a meltdown and the release of radiation at the nuclear plant in Fukushima. They worked there day after day in the full knowledge that they were exposed to radiation that could kill them in a short time or cause them to get cancer in future years.
What Jesus was like
On the feast of Corpus Christi each year, it is good for us to remember all the people who have been generous to us, who gave what they had and who gave themselves. In doing this, they showed us what Jesus was like, because they were like Jesus. In his lifetime Jesus gave himself for others, he gave himself body and soul. When the crowds came, he made time for everybody. He was always ready to go where he was needed; he would change his plans to answer an urgent request. In the end he gave his life to save the world.
Jesus knew that this kind of generosity brings the best out in people. Many were generous to him. For the three years of his life he depended on others for food to eat and for a place to lay his head when the night came. As he was making plans for the Last Supper people were ready to help. One gave him the use of the large furnished room, another carried the bucket of water on the street so that the apostles could follow him to the room without drawing the attention of the authorities. And the apostles prepared the meal.
At the Supper he gave himself: ‘Take this and eat it: this is my body; take this and drink, this is my blood.’ On the following evening, he lived out this giving on the Cross.
When we ponder the life of Jesus, what he did and taught, and when we receive him body and blood in the Eucharist, we take him into ourselves; he nourishes and strengthens us. He brings the best out in us and inspires us to live as he lived. Even more than that: he then lives in us, he lives his life of love and generous giving, in and through us.
Lord, Jesus Christ, we worship you living among us
in the sacrament of your body and blood.
May we offer to our Father in heaven
a solemn pledge of undivided love.
May we offer to our sisters and brothers
a life poured out in loving service of that kingdom
where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.