Thirsty Hart

A few donkeys short of a herd

on January 14, 2018

I bought a Missal recently and have taken up the habit of reading the readings for the day as soon as I get up (I keep it on the night stand). That way even if I don’t go to Mass until evening the readings are in my heart all day. This week’s stories of conversions are fascinating me. Here’s Samuel, trying to take a nap, and God keeps waking him up. Here’s Saul, out looking for some lost donkeys, and next thing you know he’s anointed King of the Israelites. Meanwhile Jesus, doctor of men, is healing lepers, casting out demons and inviting people to dinner.

Codex Aureus - Healing Of The Paralytic

Jesus heals a paralyzed man who is lowered down through the roof, as the crowd was too thick to get to the door.

The dinner table as a place of conversion? The bed makes more sense. One is in bed when sick or incapacitated, in need of healing. In bed, one is fragile, weak, humbled, closer to death’s realm. How many healed by Christ are found in bed. (Or even in the grave!!) One is also in bed when sleeping. Night is still, mysterious. Here angels, demons and our dear Creator can get a word in edgewise.

But dinner? Interesting.  Food sharing is participation in the sustenance of life. If you’ve ever helped a child or elderly person eat, you have felt this more viscerally. When my father was dying neighbors arrived every day bearing casseroles, gestures of life-giving. And the Giver of Eternal Life invites sinners to eat with Him. If we say yes, we give of ourselves literally, in body and soul, leaving the world, the street, and entering a new place, where we are offered the sustenance of life and healing.

 

In weakness, too, there’s perhaps a nice pointer, in that to receive food, to be fed, is to encounter ones neediness and dependence. It’s humbling. You don’t demand, you don’t take, you don’t ask for ketchup. Perhaps one reason for the common spiritual exercise (found in various contemplative traditions, not just Christianity), of eating whatever is put before you without comment or choosiness.

In any case, my ‘make a project out of everything’ tendency wants to make a list of everyone’s conversions in the Bible, including context (in bed with a fever? leper? lying under a bush? lame?). And for that matter the refusals – the rich young man who went away sad, the people who refused to come to the king’s dinner because they were busy appreciating their new team of oxen. But that will have to stay at the bottom of the to-do list for the moment.


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