Jesus has time for those on the margins

My father is a very organised man, he likes being on time for everything, if not ten minutes early for most appointments.

My father is a very organised man, he likes being on time for everything, if not ten minutes early for most appointments.

I take after my mother, as do my two brothers and sister in the respect to time keeping and organisation. As a family we often watch and listen with much amusement to my father rant and rave because we keep him late or we’re not ready when arrangements have been made. He often complains how we wait until we’re about to go out the door before looking for belongings or making sure we have what we need. Our celebration of Mother’s Day was a case in point. We only decided on the Friday evening we would take our mother out to dinner on Sunday. I know it sounds last minute but we had offered to cook and my mother politely declined the offer.It was left to her youngest child and only daughter to make a booking as she was celebrating Mother’s Day as well.

Dinner was booked for 8pm on the Sunday evening with six adults if you include me, plus one child crowded around a circular table. Most at table were starving and intent on enjoying a family meal but no one had explained that to the 3 year-old infant, my nephew, who only wanted to run mad around the restaurant. Everyone took it in turns to try to amuse him or keep him barricaded into his seat. Of course the child wanted to sit with his granny because he had worked out she was the slowest on her feet and the weakest link. When the child didn’t get his own way the crying match began as he worked his way through a varied and well-practiced assortment of tantrums. These included shouting, roaring, crying, hiding in the corner which is no mean achievement with a circular table, to hiding under the table and looking to lie down. All I can say is the meal was an interesting, evenful experience, but still an important family occasion.

Jesus knew the importance of meals for building up community and strengthening the bonds between people. Jesus was often criticised for eating with sinners, those on the margins who are not normally welcome at anyone’s table. Meals held great significance for Jesus because during these occasions not only were hungry fed but the gift of friendship was created. For the Jewish people the Passover meal was the most important celebration which not only commemorated but actually made present, the saving event of being led from slavery in Egypt to the gift of a new life in the Promised Land. The Passover had two aspects; the blood of the lamb sprinkled on their door posts protected the Israelites from the angel of death. The meal then eaten with great haste was food for their long journey into freedom. This was in reality the Israelites’ last supper in Egypt and in this ritual setting Jesus reveals how he is the new paschal lamb whose blood protects us all from the power of death.