On the last day of the Assembly Eva Zudorova from the Slovak province held a meditation during the morning prayer.
Reading from the Acts of the Apostles 10, 39-43
Now we are witnesses to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet on the third day God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses that God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead- and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to bear witness that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
In Gospels we can read, that dining and hospitality are indispensable part of Jesus’ preaching . Messages about them could be found before and after the Easter event. We could say that the journey of Jesus’ disciple – is from table to table (although it’s still the same table prepared by Jesus Christ); the journey from the “table of sinners ” (cf. Mt 15,1 ) to the Easter table of the Lamb who was sacrificed for us, and up to the wedding table of the Lamb ( cf. Rv 19, 7) . As Pope Francis said, being a disciple of the Lamb is not to live like some barricaded fortress , but as a city built on a hill , open, hospitable and full of solidarity [cf. Pope Francis, Homily, 19.1.2014]. Christian must be a hospitable place.
In 2008 I had an opportunity to spend Christmas in the Monastery of our contemplative nuns in Rome. In the refectory of the Convent is a painting which shows a scene described in Fratrum Vitae – the miracle of the multiplication of bread . A special feature of this picture is that it is not painted on canvas, but on wooden table in which this miracle had happened . The image caught the fact of transformation : an ordinary table, where brothers ate every day had become a sacred image. The picture, however, does not speak only about this miracle . This icon (image) reveals something more than can be captured in the image. Dining of brothers with Dominic points on hospitality in God , which can be expressed by the words of St. Catherine of Siena : “I am their bed and table. This gentle loving Word is their food, because they taste the food of souls in this glorious Word and because He Himself is the food I have given you: His Body and Blood, wholly God and wholly human, which you receive in the Sacrament of the altar, established and given to you by My kindness while you are pilgrims and travelers, so that you may not slacken your pace because of weakness, nor forget the blessing of the Blood poured forth for you with such burning love, but may be constantly strengthened and filled with pleasure as you walk. (Dialogue Of St. Catherine Of Siena, Chapter 14, 78.)
“Why does your teacher eats with tax collectors and sinners ? ”
Pharisees and scribes complained saying: ” This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15,1 -10 ) This rebuke which was addressed to Jesus carries an echo of the first psalm about a blessed man who “does not take a stand in the path that sinners tread, nor a seat in company with cynics.” (Psalm 1 ,1). Dining with sinners means to agree with their attitude, to join their lifestyle. The Bible speaks about a kind of “separation”: this is fair, rightful and this is not. Why then Jesus eats with them? By dining with sinners he breaks exclusion boundaries. He breaks moralizing pointing at sinners, which found themselves at periphery of society and reveals the face of the merciful God. As Timothy Radcliffe writes: “It’s his goodness without end. And God, that centre Who is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere, finding me. And He called out to me from His own immense depths. God is the one in whom no one is on the edge because God´s centre is everywhere and his circumference is nowhere. It is in the spaciousness of God that we will be completely at home because everyone will be.”
(T. Radcliffe: What is a point of being Christian, p.130-131.)
In this way we can understand Dominic’s question: “What will be with sinners?” What will happen to them if we exclude them by our fast judgments? Jesus and Dominic were led by “hospitable Father “( cf. Luke 15 , 23 ) towards all their children, near and far, the lost and found, to those who are at home and also those who are on their way home. Without this hospitable love that helps others to grow, is impossible to preach . The hospitality starts in the heart, which is converted by contemplation of the Word, about whom St. Catharine said: ” In teaching of My Truth they have found table and food and the waiter” (Dialogue Of St. Catherine Of Siena, Chapter 14, 78). They ate from the table of Trinity.
When we enter the Order we ask for mercy. These words could be paraphrased by words of Jesus : “Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice.” ( Mt 9 , 9 – 13 )