Sirach 32: 1 -13: At the Table
I continue to love the words of this writer – they are so to the point and true! Knowing that the table where meals are shared is an important part of both ancient and modern life, the images here of people sharing food are as apt today as they were when they were written. Food, one of the most basic of life’s necessities, is such an essential part of living that we put down our animosities regarding one another in order to bring in the harvest, and to share space and time in one another’s company. Today’s Noontime gives us the opportunity to reflect on the most sacred of all meals – the Eucharist. What a great and wonderful gift is this that Christ comes to us to share his physical presence with us and to sustain us in our journey here on earth. Jesus Ben Sirach tells us how we are to come to the table, how we are to behave, what we might expect.
Take care of guests before sitting down yourself . . .
Temper your wisdom when you speak, do not be too puffed up and self-important . . .
Be aware of how much wine you are drinking and its effects upon you . . .
Be brief and be concise when speaking; observe and listen more than you speak . . .
Leave when it is time to go being certain to not out-stay your welcome . . .
As I reflect on all of this I realize that this is how we ought to come to every gathering. We need to take ourselves seriously – but not overly so. We need to enjoy ourselves – but not overly so. We need to recognize ourselves in one other without losing our own identity. We must remember always that just as we are temples of the living God, so is everyone else around the table.
Early humans must have always been on the hunt for food; mealtimes where memories, songs, jokes and profound ideas might be shared were surely a luxury. How blessed are we to have the gift of leisure that we can spend an hour or two each day with family, friends and colleagues to bare our souls, share concerns, to laugh, to question, even to cry, as we share a meal. How blessed are we to have a God who wishes to share a banquet with us daily as he delivers the gift of himself for us to use as we will.
I have always cherished the time spent at the table with those I love. What is more difficult is to sit at the table with those who have announced that they are our enemies and yet when we truly believe that Christ is present when we come together, what is there to fear? If we can come together to celebrate the Eucharist – the gift of Christ himself to us – then let us also come together in amity to journey through our days together helping, abiding, remaining in Christ before all else. When Christ is seated at the table, no weapons or defense or offense are needed. We only need bring ourselves and our own humble gifts.
A Favorite from August 25, 2009.