BLEVINS: Gathering at the table to be family in Christ

December 10, 2019

Fall is the season of cooler temperatures, cravings for comfort foods — pumpkin spice lattes and baked goodies — shopping and preparations for all the upcoming holiday gatherings. 

It is a time when families travel miles to reunite with their loved ones to gather around the table for the big feast and to watch the big game on the big screen. For some of us, there is sadness as we remember those members of our family who are no longer with us; this may be the first holiday when they are missing from our table. 

The love and support of family and friends are especially needed as we hold each other close to comfort one another and tell stories of our loved ones who are united with God in heaven. Other family members may not be with us due to a serious illness, so we pray for them as we bless our food.

In many of our parishes here in the greater Houston area, some parishioners do not have families to celebrate these holidays because they may live far away or are no longer with us on Earth. 

Their parish becomes their locus for touching the familiar and experiencing community. When we gather together at the great Sunday Eucharist, we gather as a family. During the Liturgy of the Word, we hear our salvation story and reflect on Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament as we prepare for His Second Coming. 

During the Eucharistic prayer, we remember those who have died and those who are ill. We unite our prayers with the heavenly hosts in praise and thanksgiving. We sing songs, partake of the greatest feast of all, and are sent forth in mission to spread the joy of the Gospel.

Our lives are rushed by the many pressures of work, school, family activities, sporting events and other necessities. 

Sometimes we do not take the time to realize that we are a community of believers that needs to experience personal relationships and to share our faith stories with one another. In my parish, there is fellowship Sunday with coffee and donuts, but people rush out of Mass to get to their next activity and often miss the opportunity to meet others. 

“The Eucharist is an event and program of true brotherhood. From the Sunday Mass there flows a tide of charity destined to spread into the whole life of the faithful, beginning by inspiring the very way in which they live the rest of Sunday” (Dies Domini, no. 72).

This fall, I invite you to consider getting involved in a small way in your parish. Stop by for coffee and donuts once a month, join a small faith community, attend a parish novena or Eucharistic Adoration, donate to the food pantry, or the Christmas Toy drive. 

Invite someone who has no family to join your family at the holiday table. Just take a few hours out of your schedule to experience what it is like to be community — to be family in Christ and a disciple of Christ.

It will make such a difference when you see someone you know at Sunday Mass because you have met them at your small group or outreach experience.

They may need your prayers; you may need their prayers. That’s what being family is all about. We all have our own unique faith stories — stories about how Christ is working in our everyday lives to draw us closer to Him and one other.
After all, this family is all on the same path: to grow as His disciples until we are reunited with Him in the Heavenly Banquet with ALL the Family of God. 

Julie Blevins is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.