Seeing Christ in the faces of those we meet

Full of enthusiasm I decided to launch into a new regime this week to recover from the excesses of the summer. Full of good intentions I got up early on Monday morning and visited the gym. I had been warned how exercise is only one half of any attempt to lose weight of get fitter. The other is watching carefully what you eat. So I had a healthy breakfast of orange juice, porridge which was all washed down with a cup of tea with semi-skimmed milk.

Later I decided to call over home to make arrangements for my brother to check my computer. As I walked into the house my father asked did I fancy a fry? Full of all the enthusiasm for my new found energy and emboldened by my determination to eat healthily, I said yes to the offer of a cooked breakfast.

I convinced myself this was only a slight stumbling block and not really evidence of having weak will power. Later I was celebrating Mass in the home of friends. Afterwards I was asked did I fancy chicken curry, thankfully it was served with boiled and not fried rice although I’m not too sure about the calories involved in the nan and garlic bread I ate as well. At this stage when I was offered homemade apple cake and chocolate gateau I thought there was no point in refusing because the damage was done. After all Tuesday would be a new day and indeed it was, a new day for eating.

One of the strongest images in the gospels is the simple reality of sharing a meal. Sitting around a table affords family and friends the opportunity not only to share food but to share company. For centuries, meals have been occasions when we can meet and greet and share the gifts of generosity and hospitality. The ultimate revelation of God’s love is revealed in the Eucharist when we celebrate the great sacrifice of Christ’s love when he offered his life for all. Jesus in complete humility and obedience offered his life over to the father. This great love is celebrated every time we commemorate the sacred meal which realises and makes present the sacrifice of the cross. Every time we gather around the altar we remind ourselves of the profound reality how we are all brothers and sisters. If we don’t recognise our sinfulness then how can we truly celebrate the sacrament of God’s love and mercy?

As followers of Jesus we’re challenged to reveal God’s mercy and compassion for the world. Often we’re tempted to limit our concern and generosity to our families and friends. Jesus asks all his brothers and sisters to give without placeing limits or making calculations on a return. This is far from easy and every day we struggle to see the Christ in the faces of the people we meet. There are people we encounter whom we find it difficult to like, Today what should unite all Christians is a genuine concern for the welfare of others, praying for a heart big enough to welcome and not just tolerate one another.