22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
When I was growing up, whenever our family had large gatherings of people over for dinner, my mother would set up a "kids table." It was a smaller table set off to the side of the adults' table, sometimes in a different room, where all the children would eat our dinner together. Nowadays, my kids call it the "cousins table." The cousins table always seems to have quite a bit of fun. They laugh the whole time, telling jokes and playing games. No one tells them to quiet down.
Sitting at the kids table was always a good time, but I also remember looking over to the adults at their table and wondering what I was missing. I knew I didn't belong at that table where my own mum and dad were eating! I didn't like that feeling very much.
In today's Gospel, Jesus talks about a large gathering of people eating dinner together. The table is very long. Jesus would be sitting at one end of the table, very far away from the people at the other end. The people at that end wouldn't be able to see Jesus very well from way down there--it would be like being way far away at the kids table. They might not feel like they belong near Jesus.
But listen to what Jesus calls them! "Friend!" The Good Shepherd likes to be with his sheep! They belong to him! He takes them up to his end of the table to sit with him. (I wonder if they get to sit on his lap?) Sitting with Jesus, what could they see? They'd know when someone at the table needed something and could help bring food and drink to them.