Who Gives of Himself (Herself)

Submitted by PeterAKenny on July 16, 2019

James Russell Lowell, in his epic poem, The Vision of Sir Launfal, writes of a knight who goes off in search of the cup which Jesus shared with his followers at his last supper. As the knight begins his quest, he barely noticed a leper seated by the gate. He tosses him a gold piece and gallops on.

At the end, after many adventures but nevertheless, unsuccessful in his search for the Holy Grail, he returns in rags. He has no horse, no fine armor, nothing but a crust of bread. The leper is still there. He takes the leper’s cup, fills it at the nearby stream, and sits down next to him. The beggar becomes Jesus. He speaks to the knight in words that might equally be offered to foster and adoptive parents.

Lo, it is I, be not afraid!
In many climes, without avail,
Thou had spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
Behold, it is here, – this cup which thou
Didst fill at the streamlet for me but now;
This crust is my body broken for thee,
This water His blood that died on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need, –
Not that which we give, but what we share, –
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who bestows himself with his alms feeds three, –
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me."

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