at table

Mar 28, 2024

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When I was a child all family meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner (or dinner and tea as we called the midday and evening meal) were eaten at the kitchen dining table.

Sunday evening was an exception. Cheese on toast (mousetraps) or saveloys (with toast and tomato sauce) made an informal meal eaten not at the table but in relaxed comfort perhaps watching the Wonderful World of Disney or Country Calendar.

Our family had simple table rituals. We started eating only when everyone was ready to eat, and we didn’t leave the table until all had finished eating, then we could ask and be given permission – and then it was to the dishes.

It all sounds a bit regimented today, a bit quaint perhaps, but that’s the way it was and these simple family table rituals opened the way for a lot of good family round-table interaction.

There would be conversation about everything that had happened in the day. Great stories were told. Some of our best family laughs happened at the table and some of our biggest fights too.

The table was a place of gathering and a place of interaction.

The table was a place of nourishment.

The table is also a significant place of encounter in the scriptures: “My table thou has furnished” (Psalm 23) and in the gospels Jesus spends a lot of time eating and drinking at table.

On the night before his final suffering Jesus gathers those closest to him to the table for a meal, the Last Supper which for us is the First Eucharist.

Today, with this evening’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper we enter the Paschal Triduum, the journey through the suffering and death of Jesus to his resurrection.

In this Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper we are not simply remembering an historical event, but seeking to actively encounter Christ in our present-day lives.

Those who seek the fullness of life with Jesus are offered resurrection. In the hours that follow the Last Supper Jesus suffers and is put to death. Three days later God raises Jesus from death in the event which offers us hope in every suffering.

Just as the table was a place of engagement and encounter for my family, the table in the household of Jesus is also central.

It’s a place of service, for the two who were sent to prepare the upper room and for those who cooked and served.

The upper room table was a place of robust honest conversation: one of you will betray me … who?

The table of the Last Supper was a place where tables turned: Jesus the Master kneels to wash the feet of his friends.

While the table of God is the place where everyone is welcome, it’s also a place from which we all at times distance ourselves: too much preparation is required and after time we feel as though we have lost our appetite and no longer have the taste for a conversation is uncompromisingly real. Then our pride prevents the humility required for a return and for the service.

Let’s enter these Triduum days, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday aware of our longing for the new life of Easter, and praying for each other.

+++

Take an initiative and initiate a cafe table gathering, or join these gatherings:

TODAY Thursday 28 March 2024 10.00am  Faith & Co, 213 Jackson St, Petone.  Kath

Monday 1 April 2024 10.00am (& every Monday). Moku Cafe. Bush Inn Centre, Waimairi Road,  Christchurch. Trish

Thursday 11 April 2024 10.00am  Stumble Inn, 200 Mangorei Road, New Plymouth. Joan

Email me to add another: john@fff.org.nz

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your childhood memories of being around the table for meals. These bring back similar memories for me of growing up in a big family with the routines rituals and rosaries, which were continued as my husband and I parented our own large family. Being at the Wellington Chrism Mass last evening had a similar feeling. A gathering of sinners called into community around the table by our Archbishop. The prayer, the rituals, the music, the priests, the people all
    singing and praying together was truly awesome. We had a candidate for baptism with us who was so enamoured with the ceremony she wants to bring her husband and young family of four back to experience the same next year. Ships are safe in the harbour but they are made for the sea. We need to listen to the words of St John Paul 11 and “be not afraid” We have a pearl of great price in the church that needs to be shared with those around us by living out the gospel.
    Many Easter blessings on you and your team Father John and thank you for the way you have walked with us over this Lenten period.
    Blessings also to all the FFF community.

    Reply
  2. Thank you and bless you Father for the mealtime memories which were the same when we were young and for the importance of the Table.

    Reply

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