the little gifts

“On this mountain,
the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines,
of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.”
Isaiah 25:6

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about how a missed or misheard word in a conversation can make all the difference. There was the story about the Ten Commandments published missing the word “not” a couple of times in the “thou shalt not…” list. It makes all the the difference.

My friend told of the passage from Isaiah that is today’s first reading recalling that one Sunday when this passage was read at Mass a parishioner with poor hearing couldn’t make out why the promised eternal banquet would include “fine Australian wines.”

The table of friends eating and drinking together is a great image for eternity. Many of life’s best moments happen around food and drink and there is nothing better than relaxing over slow food with good friends and in these encounters we taste the abundance of eternity.

People of every culture use meals as a way of spending quality time together. We meet for a drink or for a coffee, keen for a cuppa and a chat. Life’s milestones are celebrated with meals and the more we love each other the longer we want to spend together at table.

Therefore it’s no surprise that in the gospels Jesus is eating and drinking at every opportunity. Yes, he preaches and works miracles, but even more often he is at table sometimes with one or two, often with the twelve, and in today’s gospel providing food for a large crowd.

It’s easy to give God the big gifts of which we are proud, an obstacle overcome, a relationship healed, a hurt forgiven or a temptation resisted.

God welcomes such gifts of course, but even more Jesus wants our humble offerings, even the gift of our weaknesses and failures which he then uses to become food for us and for many: our meagre offerings of a few loaves and some fish become ‘all we have ever wanted, with much to spare’ I’m reminded of the seventh step prayer of the Twelve Step journey:

“My Creator,
I am now willing
that you should have all of me, good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me
every single defect of character
which stands in the way
of my usefulness to you and others.
Grant me strength,
as I go out from here,
to do your bidding.
Amen.”

An invitation:

  • Take a few moments to call to mind your greatest struggle or sin, the burden about which you carry most shame. Imagine yourself holding this in your hands. Give it to Jesus as a gift. Now listen to Jesus tell you how he feels about your gift.
  • The list for our FFF prayer grows daily. Many of your emails give details of the prayer intention, crises in family relationships, struggles with illness and financial security, and the burdens of those we love. I invite all readers to pray each day for those who are listed.
  • Today’s psalm is perhaps the best known of all the psalms. You might like to listen in a spare moment or on the way to work so here are a few musical settings:  Crimond,  Brother James’ Air,  Anglican Chant   &  The King of Love.

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul he doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for his own name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For thou art with me; and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table thou hast furnishèd
In presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forever more
My dwelling place shall be.

9 Responses to "the little gifts"
  1. The feeding of others. This reminded me, somewhat vaguely, of a story I heard many years ago: the heavenly banquet and the banquet in hell – both the same meal and eaten with very large spoons. Whilst those in hell struggled to get any food in their mouths, those in heaven delighted in using their very long spoons to feed each other! ( or something to that effect).

  2. Ah psalm 23, such comfort and assurance to lay down & rest in God’s presence at the end of this life,
    No more tears no more pain, all will be well.

  3. Good Lord,
    Merciful Lord,
    Thank you,
    Absorbing my guilt and shame in Your Bloody Wounds,
    I will live with You in Your Glorious Home for ever more.
    Unimaginable, Unfathomable,
    Undeserved
    L O V E

  4. A mighty lot of food for thought in your writings today Fr John. If we all wrote down our sinfulness & struggles which we have had through our lives, don’t think that there would be a book big enough to mention them all. Aren’t we so fortunate to have Our Lords representative on earth, to confess our sins, failures to. For help & advice also.
    “Seventh Step Prayer” Thanks Fr.

  5. John, as always some wonderful paradigm shifts – offering our weaknesses as well as our successes – ThankYou !

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