REFLECTIONS:The importance of sharing family meals

Today as we continue to experience rapid change in man’s life, the family as an institution is losing more and more of its traditional values.

Today as we continue to experience rapid change in man’s life, the family as an institution is losing more and more of its traditional values.

Among them are the values attached to family meals, a time when all family members would assemble to share a meal, with all its rituals.

Common sense tells us that the family which eats together sticks together.

A family meal is a wonderful and natural platform for communication and sharing between parents and children in a very relaxed manner.

And psychology of growth still points to many ways that this atmosphere helps the adults to grow into mature, responsible and stable ladies and gentlemen, armed with both good manners and judgement at a very early age.

Unfortunately, our fast paced lives today, leave us little time for meals which are shared within all family members.

This seems to have some negative effects on those who miss the general education attached to the family meals; the kind of undivided attention paid to each member who has something to say, the closeness felt as members sit together, and the lessons that we learn for the whole of our lives.

Above all, family meals are occasions where children learn to love and to be loved with all sincerity.

The importance of a family meal in our ordinary families as mentioned above has been elevated to a higher value when Jesus Christ chose its environment as the best occasion to give his greatest lesson to the whole world.

That family meal is biblically known as The Last Supper. It is one of the major events in the earthly life of Jesus Christ that are recorded in a detailed way.

The Last Supper is a description of the last meal Jesus Christ had with his disciples; whom he called his brothers, prior to his arrest and crucifixion on a Roman cross.

It contains many significant principles, and continues to be an important part of Christian lives throughout the world.

The first significance of this meal is that it was the very occasion that Jesus chose to use as a conclusion of his earthly work on behalf of the kingdom of God (Lk. 22:15-16).

It is on the same meal that Jesus gives his followers symbols of remembrance for his body and his blood sacrificed on behalf of all mankind.

“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (Lk 22:19).

In addition to this, Jesus provides a very important principle for living a Christian life: the greatest are those who serve others, not those who expect to be served (Lk. 22:26). Finally, Jesus provides hope to his followers: “and I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk. 22:29-30).

For the last two millennia, the meal mentioned above as the Last Supper has inspired people to live by faith in Jesus Christ, because of the events surrounding it, many people have changed the course of their influenced by what happened during that meal.

Many men and women, because of the same event, will continue to shape their lives into a life of self-sacrifice by serving others instead of following the human tendency of expecting to be served.

John in his narration tells us that it is after the same meal with his disciples that Jesus Christ willingly and obediently allowed himself to be brutally sacrificed on a wooden cross.

He did this to reconcile each of us to God by paying the debt of our sins. In return, Jesus makes a simple request, that on our part we should remember this act of love that he performed on our behalf. Jesus Christ did not have to die for us.

He did, however, because he values every life on earth and wants to see each of us sitting at his dining table someday in heaven.

Throughout the Bible, and throughout history, the truth of Christ’s message has been established; that we can join Jesus in heaven by acknowledging his sacrifice and accepting him into our life.

In addition, we can apply the lessons Jesus taught at the Last Supper to live a faithful life while here on earth by serving others in love. 

As we meditate on Jesus’ teaching on that occasion, we must remember that his listeners didn’t understand what he really meant by telling them to eat his body and drink his blood. Yet Jesus made it very clear that it was precisely what he meant and that he was prompted by his love for human kind.

That kind of love we can hardly grasp, but it helps if we have experienced true human love especially as it is manifested between parents and children.

And it is through sharing that family members experience that kind of human love.