The deep needs and hungers of our hearts

I was baby-sitting last Friday morning, the task wasn’t easy because my guest couldn’t speak or eat. I’m not talking about my nephew here, but my father. He sought refuge with me in the parochial house the night before the wedding of his one and only daughter. Looking to take his mind off the immensity of the occasion I took him to dinner on Thursday night, all I can say is the dog at home was delighted with her doggie bag. When the big day arrived, my father managed to speak four words and these were to the aforementioned dog which he took for a walk to keep his sanity. I was going to cook a fry but it was easier to ask my brother to collect a cooked breakfast from the local shop. Unfortunately the smell of sausages and bacon did little for my father’s well-being. As the hour approached my father’s face was as white as his hair. All subdued he retreated into a room to get ready and in a reversal of roles I had to attach his braces.

I was baby-sitting last Friday morning, the task wasn’t easy because my guest couldn’t speak or eat. I’m not talking about my nephew here, but my father. He sought refuge with me in the parochial house the night before the wedding of his one and only daughter. Looking to take his mind off the immensity of the occasion I took him to dinner on Thursday night, all I can say is the dog at home was delighted with her doggie bag. When the big day arrived, my father managed to speak four words and these were to the aforementioned dog which he took for a walk to keep his sanity. I was going to cook a fry but it was easier to ask my brother to collect a cooked breakfast from the local shop. Unfortunately the smell of sausages and bacon did little for my father’s well-being. As the hour approached my father’s face was as white as his hair. All subdued he retreated into a room to get ready and in a reversal of roles I had to attach his braces.

Eventually I drove my father home and thankfully the radio filled the void of silent tension. I have to confess I felt my first butterflies as I recognised one of the wedding cars outside our home. The only thing more nerve wracking than walking down the aisle for my father was sharing the next half hour in a house full of woman trying to get ready. With my father safely returned home it was now my turn to panic wondering would the weather hold, would my sister be on time, would the nephew destroy the church? My sister was only half an hour late it’s just as well she’s my sister. However, I do have to make allowances as my father needs a hip replacement and it took my sister ages to walk him down the aisle. It was a very emotional ceremony but needless to say my sister, her husband and most of my relations were spared no mercy during my sermon. After the ceremony events became more relaxed, especially after the speeches, when most of the top table, my father included, rediscovered their appetite.

After a week of celebrations, enjoying the company of family and friends, it took a few days to embrace normality. Weddings have been transformed into three day events to provide a proper send off for the bride and groom. Yet I returned very quickly to reality after my first day back in the hospital. After all the meals and festivities it was a sobering experience to encounter those who for various reasons have no appetite, no desire for food, unable to enjoy the necessities we take for granted. Usually only in the face of adversity or crisis do we begin to understand the deepest needs and hungers of our hearts. What Jesus offers his disciples is the gift of himself in the Eucharist. Jesus offers his followers a sacred meal, the real bread which has come down from heaven. Yet to appreciate what we are being offered we have to develop a trust in Jesus as the person who satisfies the deepest hungers of our hearts, our desire for love, companionship and meaning. In the Eucharist Jesus offers us true life.