It’s nice to be back home and writing these messages again. I took some vacation to visit my family in Texas. US Thanksgiving saw me at my sister Kathy’s, in San Antonio, and then a week later we had our annual family reunion. Both of those events had abundant food… we visited and ate and ate and visited. Coming together to eat is an event that is important not only to me but also to most of us human beings. We are social creatures, needing the physical nourishment of food and the emotional and spiritual nourishment of fellowship. Much of Advent involves food. There are Christmas parties, baked goods galore, and certain dishes that people only make at this time of year. Here at the parish we’ve had our share of parties and events, and most involved food in one way or another: the parish Christmas party, hospitality after each Sunday Eucharist as we began our parish mission, a veritable feast at the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and so many other moments.
God, too, wants to be part of all these goings-on. In the final gospel of Advent we hear the angel Gabriel tell Mary that she will bear the Son of God Most High. In other words, God, as Jesus, embraces every bit of our reality and chooses to be born into a specific moment in time in human history—and he likes to eat! This Jesus whose birth we are celebrating later says that some call him a glutton and a drunkard. So many stories in the gospel take place at a meal setting, and Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God as a wedding feast.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though; right now most of us are focusing on Jesus as the little baby born in Bethlehem, lying in a manger. Think about that for a moment. A manger is where the sheep and other animals come to eat. Their food is placed there. How many images are there in scripture where God is a shepherd and we are sheep, part of God’s flock? If that’s the case, look at what God is doing for us: we, the sheep, come to the manger to eat, and what do we find? God himself! God is there to nourish us, and to give us strength for whatever may come our way. And God is still inviting us to come eat, and to come to our weekly “family reunion”—the Eucharist. I pray that this time of grace may be one of nourishment and joy to one and all.