Table of Love
By: Rick Hernandez
Not too long ago, I found myself gazing at a bowl of soup. I know that it sounds odd to use the word “gazing” here, but that is what it was. It was no mere “looking” at my bowl but a deep contemplative inspection of the meaning of this food placed in front of me. This was just an ordinary bowl of soup, yet for me, in those few minutes, it contained both the strength of a thousand memories and an awakened power of recognition.
In a flash, I remembered when my grandmother fed me as a child. This beautiful and faithful woman cared so much for me. I could not name it at the time, but I can see how much love she put into making those dishes. Now I can see that being included in her thoughts about what to make validated my dignity, especially as a child.
I remembered the countless times my mother and father fed me, caring so much for me, and how much effort they put into making sure I was appropriately nourished. They wanted me to thrive, to grow into a good and healthy man. For a moment, I felt a deep sadness because, at the time, I could not look beyond the regularity of the mundane to acknowledge their efforts. That day, gazing at my soup, I was able to recognize their love, and I was moved to offer a prayer of thanks for them from the deepest part of my heart. They gave me so much, expecting nothing in return.
I remembered the many times I was sick or lonely and the many dear souls who went out of their way to bring me food and companionship. Oh Lord, there was so much love there too!
I remembered how my wife and I have fed our children and how we aimed to nourish them. Soup is not their thing, but we tried to provide them food to help them thrive. Yes, there was always real thought and intent, a beautiful mindfulness behind our actions.
Remembering all this, I could not help but shed a few tears at the table… for I recognized that true love was present there.
Our Lord Jesus loves us so much that He has left himself as nourishment for us along our way to Heaven. He has left us the recipe for receiving His love, which is to share in His bread and wine, the true Flesh and Blood of the Lamb of God. We are to share this selflessly with our brothers and sisters. When we share of this simple yet majestic banquet, we are united in love to all of His mystical body, the members of the Church.
After so many times attending Mass, it is possible that for some of us, its perceived value could become diluted within the regularity of the mundane. We must fight this! Every time we receive our Lord, we are precisely what we are called to be, one with Him who loves us. Each time we receive Him must become a landmark moment in our lives, a memory to cherish, a treasure of grace to go back to. It is more than worth of shedding a tear or two.
What a grace it is to receive the gift of tears! It speaks of our hearts recognizing His love.
At His table, we are received. There He nourishes us because He loves us! And He is always there for us, ever-present, door open, food served, ready to create memories of shared time in relationship. Should we not take Him up on the offer?
That day at the table, I re-lived so many loving memories that my heart became mush. With tearful eyes, I looked at my wife and children and was overwhelmed with the thought of how many more meals I will get to cook for them or how many more times we will be sharing together at the table. Any table that we share is now in my heart a table of plenty, a table of love.
I remember that just after that experience, I became rabidly hungry, yet I ate mindfully and purposely slow, for I wanted to taste the love that we were sharing for as long as possible. Oh, my precious Lord, please do not ever let me forget the taste of your Love!
Let us pray: Our most loving Lord, you are the God of Plenty, the God of Love. Let us share from your banquet and satiate our hunger for You. Helps us to share You with everyone at our table. Amen.
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.