Last night we shared a huge pot (two, actually) of vegetarian chili and thirteen loaves of homemade bread with a group of young friends. Some of them were old friends and some of them were new acquaintances. By the end of the night, we all seemed like old friends. Our home was full to the max, and we were constantly bumping into one another, but no one really minded. We were just happy to be together.
In the process of bidding her goodbyes, one of the young women made a remark that made me pause. She expressed her appreciation for the good food and good company and her amazement that we’d be willing to open our home in this way to strangers. Not many people are willing to do that, she told me. For real?
Huh. We’ve been doing Souper Suppers for three years now, and I’ve never even given that a thought. I’ve never thought of anyone who has entered our home as a stranger! Everyone is greeted with a motherly hug – if they’re receptive to it – and told to make themselves completely at home. Once inside, we’re all family and that’s all there is to it. Oh, sure, I might not know everyone’s names, but just ask my poor kids how often I forget their names!! And, how long have I known them?
I had to think about how I might answer this young woman’s remark. This is such a given to me, that I’d never had to explain it before. Then I had it. I told her, “We are all members of the Body of Christ, aren’t we? So how could we be strangers?” Now it was her turn to give pause. I could tell that my response had gone deep. I certainly hadn’t said it for effect, I truly meant it.
We are indeed members of the same Body. Consider St. Paul’s words: For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another. (Ro 12:4-5) We are all interconnected through our Lord Jesus. Additionally, we have the same Father – our heavenly Father – and the same Mother – our Blessed Mother Mary. No, we’re not strangers at all.
Of course, I don’t always heed my own words. While I may not have any trouble opening my home to “strangers”, I do at times have great difficulty opening my heart to people I’ve estranged. I do at times allow my own fears and insecurities to hold me back from being at home in the presence of certain others. Are they any less part of the Body of Christ than the folks with whom I share soup and bread?
Imagine what the world would be like if we could follow St. Paul’s words in every situation, with every person we know. Wouldn’t that be just souper?