From Meal to Metanoia

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Have you been invited to a meal by someone close to you (relative, friend, “barkada”, etc.)? What was your immediate answer? Was it a yes or a no to the invitation? For us Filipinos, sharing a meal is an important element of our life. Coming together in a meal brings more than satisfaction to physical hunger. A shared meal involves a coming together, dialogue, and a sharing of food and drink. We invite to a meal mostly those who are close to us or those whom we are at peace with. Seldom do we invite those whom we do not know or who we consider as strangers. All the more, we do not invite to our banquet those whom we consider as enemies or rivals. We might lose our appetite for the meal.

Our Lord Jesus, in his ministry, shared meal with anyone even those whom he did not know. He ate with those who are considered excluded from society: the tax collectors, sinners, and non-observers of the law. Jesus was invited by Levi to a great reception in which he was joined by a large crowd of tax collectors and others at dinner. Since Levi was called by our Lord to follow Him leaving everything behind, this time he invites his master to dine with him. The elements of a shared meal are present: a coming together, dialogue, and a sharing of food and drink. The presence of our Lord in this meal brought about the coming together of these people. The dialogue among them must have been intimate though they did not know one another. The food and drink that they shared must have nourished them all physically. Yet the Pharisees and the scribes who saw this questioned the disciples of our Lord, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” They did not see the core of Jesus’ message of bringing back these people to God (metanoia). Our Lord profoundly answered them, “The healthy do not need a doctor; sick people do. I have not come to invite the self-righteous to a change of heart, but sinners.”

This Lenten season we are invited to repentance for sin. We too are sinners. We acknowledge before the Lord our need to change our sinful ways. The Eucharist is a meal in which our Lord allows us to come together with Him and encounters us to a closer participation in His love. The Eucharist also nourishes our soul which is our strength for service, charity, and good works. Let us make our participation in this sacred meal a great part of our Lenten practice. May our partaking lead us also to a metanoia, and to a change of heart or pattern of thought so that we will be converted fully to God. How? By entering into the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Let God be at the center of all these practices so that our selfishness will be truly detached allowing Him to change us and bring us closer to Him.

Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us

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