Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time | October 11/12, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the first reading.
One of the things that I miss most about my grandmother is meals at her house.
When I think back to all of the many visits that we shared over the years, I smile at how they always followed a predictable pattern.
First, everyone would come bearing their gifts. Coolers laden with “pop” and water, bottles of wine and bags of chocolate, bags of chips and tubs of dip. Soon the fridge and counter were overflowing.
About midday, the cooking would begin. Each family who came had their specialty. We would have Tex-Mex from our Texans cousins. The Buffalo clan would be grilling Ted’s famous hot dogs. My mom would bake. My aunt and uncle from Ohio would make a vegetarian dish. And my Nana would prepare the main course that would tie it all together.
The smells coming from the kitchen would waft through the house for hours before we heard the predictable call to come and get it. We would all cram into the kitchen to soak in the feast that was set before us. You never realized how hungry you were until those few moments before we prayed and the meal began.
You really couldn’t be late for a meal at Nana’s because she always waited for you. As more and more people piled into the kitchen, we would find ourselves split. The adults would head into the dining room, while the cousins stayed in the kitchen. It was pandemonium, as platters were passed, wine was poured, rolls were buttered, and desserts were nibbled on before anyone noticed.
And then we would eat, savoring each dish . . . from the salad to the dessert.
As we ate, we talked, we laughed, we cried. We debated, we argued, we reminisced. The hours would pass, the candles would burn down low, but we stayed. Savoring the company, as much as we savored the food.
I couldn’t help, but envision my Nana’s house as I read the 1st reading for today.
For her meals would have made Isaiah proud.
For it was not just about the food, it was about the experience. The experience of being home. Of being cared for. Of being loved.
It was a place where tears were wiped away . . . tears of loss and tears of frustration, tears of despair and tears of anger. It was a place where hearts were mended . . . from the loss of a husband or the divorce of a child, from the stress of work or the confusion of adolescence.
It was a place where all were welcomed . . . new boyfriends and new neighbors, in-laws, grandchildren, and old friends all found a place at the table.
It was a place where one encountered God in the meal that was shared and in the people it was shared with.
See, my grandmother understood the invitation that God extended her . . . an invitation to live life to the fullest. An invitation to share that life with another.
The same invitation that is extended to each of us this day.
An invitation to come and share in a meal.
A meal in which all are welcomed. .
The old who yearn to see the face of God
The young who question whether there is a God
The broken who seek comfort
The lost who want to be found
The overworked who seek rest from their labors
The grateful hearts who find that life is good.
A meal in which songs are sung, in which laughs are shared, in which tears are shed. A meal in which our broken hearts are slowly mended. In which arms extended to help another carry the load. A meal in which we are reminded that we are never alone.
A meal in which we are invited to savor each word, to savor each bite, to savor the people that we share this meal with.
A meal that does not end when the mass does, but that continues in our daily lives.
A meal that we experience every time we pause to let the wind blow through our hair or the sun caress our face.
Every time we stay in our car to listen to the last beats of our favorite song or wait at the bus corner until our child’s bus pulls out of sight.
Every time we ignore the cell phone to enjoy those last sips of coffee with our spouses or the last drops of wine with our friends.
Every time we put aside the to-do-list and pick up a book to read with our child. Every time, we turn off the alarm and sit in silence with our God to begin the day.
We continue to participate in the meal. We continue to respond to the invitation.
To enjoy life to the fullest. To enjoy what our God has prepared for us.
Our life is an opportunity to share in the celebration, from the Eucharistic table to the tables of our lives. But are we experiencing that celebration, my friends? Or are we letting our burdens, our stress, our worries, and our fears rob us of our feast?
The invitation is always there my friends, let us have the courage to respond.