I’m convinced eating together with family, friends or strangers is one of, if not, the most sacred activity in life. It was a lesson learned while serving at Koinonia in New York. As part of this intentional Christian community, we were required to eat daily meals together. I discovered dining table was a place of reconciliation. Conflicts arise in every community. But conflicts are hard to maintain when you sit down and eat together. Eventually you find yourself drawn into confessing, forgiving and renewing fractured relationships.
It’s a holy thing to serve others. When you host guests and serve them food you get to experience the joy of gratitude from those who are dining. A need is being met and you are the one helping to provide that need. As a server, you also get to stand a little outside the conversation and witness the joy of others eating together. Sometimes when we are seated at the table we get caught up in the conversation and fail to notice the joy of the table fellowship.
There is also a sacredness in being a guest. Once a family in poverty invited Peggy and I to a meal. They desperately wanted to show us their gratitude. It was a very simple meal of hot dogs and Kraft macaroni and cheese. Cockroaches ran across the table as we ate. Our comfort was not important. We needed to provide someone the opportunity to thank us in the only way they knew how. It remains one of my most favorite meals because it was so holy.
People who insist on always being the host deny others the opportunity to experience the joy of serving. They also, without realizing it, make their guests feel as though their food, their home, and their life are not worthy of their presence. We often think of serving as an act of humility. But serving can become a thing of power and control. Humility is also necessary to be a guest.
In today’s reading, as the disciples sit around the table of the Last Supper, they begin to argue about who is the greatest. Jesus enters the conversation and says, “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
The one who hosts this final meal is also the one who humbled himself to be a guest at many different tables. These words remind me there is life in the humility of Jesus. It’s a lesson modeled in our everyday dining more than we realize. I invite you to discover the joy of humility. (Lk 22: 24-27)