Meals - Nourishment for the body and for relationships

The term “fast food” so common in our society refers to the preparation time, hopefully not to the pace of sharing a meal with family and friends.

The Eucharist is often called “the Lord’s Supper” to signify our accompanying Jesus and others as He shares Himself with us.

Yet in the Gospel of Luke (chapter 14) we find a meal where suspicion raged, not hospitality and friendship. “They watched him closely,” we are told, implying some of those participating were hoping to entrap Jesus in some slip-up.

Jesus, of course, could see their prejudices and shared two parables. In one story, he spoke to the guests; in the other, directly to the host.

The first parable descries the way guests choose their “places of honor” near the host, letting those considered less important in society taking the seats farther way.

In the new order, Jesus tells us in another gospel, this is unacceptable because we are all God’s children and there is no rank and distinction in the Reign of God. But here Jesus appeals to practicality, advising us, “do not go the higher place” lest we suffer the indignity of being asked to take a lower spot. He suggests, instead, we choose the lower places and notes we might be asked to go to a higher one.

The second parable is about extending invitations to a dinner. Jesus tells the host – and us – to be unselfish and invite the poor, the disabled, and the disadvantaged. They are not able to reciprocate. They cannot further our careers or status in the community. This is genuine giving, true charity.

Both of these parable are about being generous and inclusive. We are told to give without seeking something in return and to seek out those who do not rank in the eyes of world and do get the usual attention.

The context for these parables is a meal, a time and place for hospitality and sharing. But the lesson is about life. It is about caring for others and having compassion for the predicaments and suffering in which others find themselves.

If meals – and the Eucharist – are about building relationships with others, so is the home life, the workplace, and the wider community.