Where is the guest room…
Mary and Joseph could find no guest room when it was time for Jesus to be born. The only place providing hospitality was the manger trough. Now Jesus sends the disciples to the guest room where he has arranged the Passover to be eaten. The one born in Bethlehem, the house of bread, will now give himself as bread for the life of the world.
Luke has Jesus at no less than ten meals. But it is not the food but who he eats with and what Jesus does at table that means the most. Jesus eats with the unrighteous and the righteous. He challenges the twelve to feed a crowd with five loaves and two fish, before Judas leaves the table Jesus gives him the bread and he eats and drinks with discouraged disciples after his resurrection. He forgives sins, teaches and scandalizes at meals and he doesn’t always wash his hands.
These meals are social encounters where Divine wisdom, joy and abundance are experienced. Jesus at prayer is another great theme of Luke. It was through prayer that Jesus ate the bread of the Word that came from the mouth of God. Prayer is the deep personal encounter where we are nourished in a way that draws us to others.
Vocation discernment is nourished by personal prayer and communal encouragement. When we feed ourselves adequately at both of these tables we will have the guts to do what Jesus asks of us for the kingdom. By practicing a healthy rhythm and range of prayer we gradually spend a little less time each day preoccupied with ours past and future and a little more time absorbed in the now of God’s kingdom.
St. Eugene de Mazenod was consumed with zeal for sharing the bread of God’s word with the poor in a language that they fully understood. He used to say to the Oblates: we must not be content to break the bread of the Word of God for them, but also, as it were, to chew it for them. (from the 1818 rule, on preaching)
Ash Wednesday we were told to “go into your room and shut the door.” (Mt 6:8) In private we become the “guest room” for Jesus and the Father. Their Spirit then leads us to rooms crowded with people who hunger for God.
As we chew the word of God’s love for each of us we are tasting the love of God for all of us. Love your neighbor as yourself does not mean love your neighbor as much as yourself but it secretly implies that truly loving yourself will become true love for others. But if you can’t truly love yourself then your love for others will be shallow also. Chewing the word of God’s love for us will fulfill our discernment. Then we too will be able to nourish the righteous and unrighteous, the sick and the healthy and provide a banquet in barren places.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada Province.