By: Rick Hernandez
“How kind is our Sacramental Jesus! He welcomes you at any hour of the day or night. His Love never knows rest. He is always most gentle towards you. When you visit Him, He forgets your sins and speaks only of His joy, His tenderness, and His Love. By the reception He gives to you, one would think He has need of you to make Him happy.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
I have always been a bit of an anthologist, a collector of stories. Some of my most cherished childhood memories revolve around the times when we had visitors to our household. Even as a young child, I loved to sit at the table and listen to the interactions between my parents and their guests, mainly because these always come with great retellings of the stories of their lives.
Some of these tales were light and funny; some were heavy and sad. Sometimes, deep questions were posed, and that would spur great debate. Other times, strong hurts were exposed, compelling us to empathy and mercy. On occasion, great personal insight was shown. It was a beautiful sense of togetherness.
But beyond all that, what moved me the most, was that these were stories that celebrated life. Our visitors LIVED through these experiences, learned from them, and were now sharing those lessons with us. What wondrous gifts these stories were for us! There were always laughs to be had and tears to be shed when the heart was willing.
Through the retelling of these stories, these dear friends brought us into their inner circle and passed down their hard-earned wisdom to us. They were sharing their life, and by that, they were also sharing who they were. Thought that time shared, we received their gifts of self, time, presence, acknowledgment, and love. As a child, being able to participate at this table acknowledged my dignity as a family member.
Today, when I am at the Eucharistic banquet that is the Mass, I am once again as that young child, watching attentively at this reunion of the elders. In the Liturgy of the Word, the beloved ones break open their life stories, shared with us through Scripture. In fact, the Word Himself, our Lord, breaks open and shares the stories of His public life, as a gift of Grace and Wisdom to the ones genuinely present, that we may grow ever closer to Him who loves us so dearly. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Christ, our Lord, raises us to His table and gives us our true dignity as members of this family, the family of God.
He cares for our stories too! We are called to share our experiences with Him in this celebration and unite them in love, to the offering of Our Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. And then we are sent to the world to share the good news!
If we are, to a certain extent, the sum of all of our experiences (including the ones we glean from others), then when we offer those up to our brothers and sisters daily, we are fully emulating Jesus, who gives us everything He is, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
So, next time a dear one sits with us and starts sharing of who they are in their story, let’s listen well and with a willing heart, for that may be a great gift for us. May we, at that and every moment, indeed be Christ to one another. 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.