Jesus often taught over a meal, and he often depended on the hospitality of neighbors for a place to eat and sleep. And it is clear from Jesus’ teaching that we are called to welcome and serve others. The ultimate Christian hospitality is the Eucharist and the early Christians saw a connection between sharing hospitality with others and Eucharist. Acts tells us they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” and they broke bread together in their homes “with glad and generous hearts.”
Even on a Friday night, after being caught in traffic and not getting home until 5:15 (with the guests due to arrive at 6:00), I love preparing a meal and welcoming others into my home to share it. Last night we had a wonderful couple over for dinner, who we were fortunate enough to meet through a mutual friend when he visited from NY this summer. A good meal, some good wine, good conversation, laughter and fellowship. The house was rich with “glad and generous hearts.” Although not in consecrated form, there is no question in my mind of Christ’s presence in such gatherings. We share food, we share stories, we share ourselves. We share.
When I did my training back in the Rockville Center diocese to become an Extraordinary Minister of Communion, the line that stuck in my mind was that made by one of the presenters, who described the communion rite at Mass as “The Body of Christ giving the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ.” Last night, the Body of Christ shared a meal with the Body of Christ in the presence of the Body of Christ. And it was really sweet.