Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homily: Table Talk

This homily was originally written for use in the Celebration of the Eucharist.  Thus, the reference to the table of the Eucharist in the closing paragraph. 
Scripture Readings:
1. Acts 25:13b-21
2. John 21:15-19

 Table Talk

Tables are meant for sharing.  We know of all kinds of tables: kitchen and dining room tables, computer tables, pool tables, snack tables, laboratory tables, just to name a few.  Each table evokes its unique type of sharing.  At some tables we share information; at others, skills at games; at still others, we share the quest and challenge for new discoveries.  All of these add to the quality of our lives and draw us into unique relationships with those who share the table with us.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is at a breakfast table with his disciples.  The sharing that takes place is revealing as well as painful.  The Gospel says that Jesus revealed himself to the disciples, but we are not told the substance of Jesus’ revelation.  On the other hand, the questions that Jesus raises after this breakfast cause Peter to reveal something intimate and painful.  In Jesus’ question to Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter is taken off guard.  Peter is distressed at being asked the same question three times.  He relies, “Yes, Lord, I love you.”

One would think, in this breakfast conversation, that this talk about love would lead to further talk about their relationship, their good times together, their hopes for the community and the like.  The “table talk,” however, takes a seemingly strange turn.  Jesus tells Peter to serve the community and immediately follows this with talk about aging and dying.  These topics are typically avoided at table because they touch us at a most vulnerable point.  Yet Jesus does not avoid difficult topics.  He encourages us to speak about things that weigh heavy on our hearts.  He supports us in our fears and anxieties.  He knows what we are experiencing.

The conversation doesn’t end with this.  Jesus does not expect Peter to wallow in self pity over the thoughts of debilitation as he ages or dying in a way he doesn’t plan.  No, Jesus implies that we need to let go of control in our lives, be open to the subtle action of the Spirit of God in our thoughts and attitudes and, in the midst of this, get on with life and follow Jesus.

We all bring our concerns to the table.  Jesus and Peter brought their concerns about commitment, service, aging and death.  Tables are meant for sharing at whatever level we are able to share.

Today, now, we find ourselves at a Holy Table.  This table of the Eucharist is where we find Jesus in a unique way.  It is a table where we can expose our deep concerns, anxieties and fears about ourselves, the world and our loved ones.   It is a table where Jesus waits for us to unburden whatever weighs heavy on our hearts.  It is a table where we are nourished with the life of Jesus and the Spirit of God to go forth, follow Jesus and find the sheep.

What shall we say, today, as we approach this table?

--Rosemarie Greco, DW