This morning at Catholic mass, I heard the words that are familiar to so many of us:
Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”
I have heard these words every week since before I was old enough to know what the words meant. And today, for the first time, I think I understood them.
Jesus commands us to do this in memory of Him. But do what? I have always believed that He was just telling us to go to church on Sunday and celebrate the Eucharist. But today, I focused on the actual words. This is my body, which will be given for you. Jesus is giving up his body… for us. He is giving himself… for us. “Do this in memory of me.” This is what He is calling us to do. Give ourselves for others. Give ourselves to Jesus. Its not just about breaking bread or drinking wine. He is calling us to do. He is calling us to give. He is calling us to love. John captures His words in this way:
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
“Do this in memory of me.” It is a tall order. Just showing up at mass on Sunday is a lot easier. Give myself for someone else? Lay down my life for someone else? Lay down my wants and needs for someone else? Put someone else ahead of me? Ouch. I can barely hand over the remote control. But this is what Jesus calls us to do. This is what true love is. It’s not just the romantic love we see on tv. It’s not lust. It’s not sex. It’s not just enjoying the other person’s company. It is giving one’s self, putting one’s own needs to the side, and laying down one’s life for someone else.
And today at mass, as the priest said these words, I got it. Jesus loves me. Jesus gave his life for me. How can I not try (and I say try, because I know I will fail) to give myself fully to God, as He gave Himself to me?
You came to earth to show us what love is. A love so strong and pure that we cannot fathom its depths. Our own selfish needs, or more accurately “wants”, keep us from being capable of the love that you shared. And yet you still call us to do it. Jesus I love you with all of the love that I am capable of today, but I want to love you deeper. Help me to continue to grow. I want to give myself fully to you. Help me to love here on earth with the love that you have shared. Help me to give up my selfish ways and let go of the need to control. Help me to give myself for the others I encounter.