“And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:25
I was fortunate to meet an amazing mom a few years ago as the result of a terrible tragedy. She lost her husband when her kids were only three and five. As a fellow mother of young kids, I ached for her. The emotional turmoil I felt could only be quelled with action. Although all I could think of to do was to make a meal for her, I wanted to give it wholeheartedly, with absolutely no expectation of reciprocation.
When I knocked on her door to deliver the meal, I was blown away by her ability to receive from a total stranger. She stood on her side of the door, steeped in her grief, graciously thanked me, and let me fill her hands. I knew in that moment that she had given me so much more than I had given her: she completed my giving by simply receiving.
Before receiving his First Holy Communion a few weeks ago, my son Mason had a rehearsal. As all the eight-year-olds lined up to practice receiving Communion for the first time, a few of them were reaching out to grab the unblessed wafer. It happened so often that the Religious Education Director stopped the rehearsal to catch everyone’s attention. She explained to the kids that Jesus gives us His body through the sacrament of Holy Communion. They aren’t supposed to reach out and grab it; they are supposed to cup their hands, remain still, and simply receive the host.
Although I’ve carried the living example of that incredible mom with me ever since, it was the simply stated words of the Religious Ed. Director that brought the lesson to completion for me. I’m not one to cup my hands, remain still and simply receive. If someone does something kind for me, I feel compelled to give back. There is a forever active scorekeeper in my head that won’t let me rest until I’ve returned the favor: cooking a meal for them, babysitting for them, or buying a thank you gift for them. I don’t ever want to be perceived as a someone who takes advantage.
Nor do I ever want to take advantage of God’s blessings. I always feel compelled to earn His grace, doing for others so that I will be worthy of what Jesus did for me.
Long ago, the world was in a tragic state. God felt compelled to take action. He gave us His only begotton Son, Jesus. Jesus, in turn, gave up His life for us, wholeheartedly, with absolutely no expectation of reciprocation. God doesn’t keep score; Jesus doesn’t ask to be repayed. Serving Him, or others, doesn’t make me any more worthy of His love. Of course I try to follow His commandments and do good works to perpetuate His love, but I am worthy enough singularly because of what He did for me. However, if I don’t accept His invitation to the altar to receive Communion, I’ve broken the cycle, derailed the sacrifice, because I am not there to complete the process of His giving.
As I approach the altar from now on, I hope to keep the vision of my friend, and the words of the Religious Ed Director, fresh in my mind. I am going to cup my hands, remain still, and receive. As my hands are being filled, I will complete Jesus’ giving with an “Amen” of deep gratitude, letting His graces wash over me, and fill me, through the act of simply receiving.