Authors have observed that sharing a meal is one of the most intimate things we do as human beings. When we share a meal, we move from the realm of business or formality to the realm of the personal or familial. For the host, this entails an openness, a vulnerability. They are in some sense saying, “I’m welcoming you into my personal space,” and with that an offer of deeper relationship. For the guest, there is the importance of recognizing the gift being offered. The guest can validate this gift and respond in generosity of spirit.
One of the many tragic things about this pandemic is that our meal-sharing has been taken from us. We have been cautious about inviting people into our homes for the greater good of preserving the health of the community. However, a healthy community is more than just a crowd of healthy bodies. Our bodies can be healthy, but our minds and hearts suffer from despair, loneliness, hatred, or division. We are made for relationship, and sharing meals is one of the most meaningful ways to build relationship. This is especially the case when we find ourselves divided in some way.
In the gospel reading today, Jesus is both host and guest. At first, he sees Levi and, like a host, invites him to “follow” him. It’s an offering of relationship. Levi then responds whole-heartedly and even invites Jesus to a large banquet in his home. Jesus accepts this gift and becomes the guest. The Pharisees present begin criticizing Jesus, recognizing that sharing a meal is an acknowledgment of building a relationship. Jesus uses meals as an opportunity to build bridges, showing us the positive potential inherent in sharing a meal.
Hopefully, soon we will be able to share meals again as a society. This can be such a healing process. Who will you welcome to your table, and who’s invitation will you accept?
Let Us Pray:
Gracious God, we pray for an end to this pandemic, and we ask you to send your Spirit to gather us back around your table, where you bring healing and reconciliation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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