Before you watch this video, think about your answer to this question: If you could bring anyone for dinner, dead or alive, who would it be?
This isn’t a quiz, so there is no ultimate correct answer. You don’t need to say Jesus just because you are in youth group, or a famous historical figure just because you want to sound smart. You don’t even need to name a world leader or well-known person. Those might be good answers, but your answer should honestly be the person with whom you’d want to have dinner. Who would it be?
Once you know your answer, check out how others answered the question in this brief video.
Watch as the parents in the video immediately name a celebrity or think about it for a while and come up with an influential world leader. That’s no fault to the parents; famous people are plastered all over the media. It really would be cool to get to know what they are like in person. But, they are shocked, even brought to tears, by their children’s’ answers.
Does it have to be someone famous? Can we invite the whole family? Some children ask questions to make sure the answer they want to say fits the criteria. Across the board, their answer is family. These adults don’t realize that they are the most important people to their kids, not the celebrity names all over television.
Though it is completely routine for some families to have dinner together, parents may not notice how special that routine actually is. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out, “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” These children’s answers reflect that.
Pope Francis addresses the dinner table, too. He wants it to be a time of looking at each other, not at screens. This will be fruitful time for all to recognize the fundamental importance of each member of the family. It is evident when one person is missing because the family feels the absence, even though that family member isn’t the president or queen or on the cover of magazines.
To his general audience on November 11, 2015, Pope Francis connected the family meal to the Eucharist: “Jesus chose the cafeteria also to present to the disciples, his spiritual testament – he did at dinner – condensed in the memorial gesture of his sacrifice: the gift of his Body and his Blood as food and drink of salvation, which feed on the true and lasting love. In this perspective, we can say that the family is ‘home’ to the Mass, because it leads to the Eucharist its conviviality experience and opens up to the grace of a universal friendliness, love of God for the world.”
The simple act of having family together is good for the soul. Everyone needs to eat dinner, so eat it together! Just as God incarnated Himself as a small baby and the Eucharist is Jesus transforming a tiny piece of unleavened bread, it’s in the little things where great grace lies. Mother Teresa of Calcutta acknowledges this: “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
The world today seems to think that a small thing such as family dinner is insignificant compared to worldly accomplishments, but it is clear that family dinner is what innocent children long for more than seeing a celebrity or world leader at the table. They want their family, even if the world doesn’t know their names.
Sports, arts, clubs, work–these will never be as important as family dinner. Make time for family every night, even if some members are busy and can only make it for dessert. Be together. Let them know they are loved, not for their talent or accomplishments or grades or paycheck or even how many likes they have on their latest facebook profile picture, but they are loved because of who they are.
Bring everyone together around the table, bless the meal in thanksgiving for Jesus’s sacrifice, and forget about the smartphones, computer screens, and celebrities. The extraordinary thing is your ordinary family.
1. Go out of your way to have dinner with your family on a night you usually aren’t able to gather together. Surprise them!
2. Instead of one person being responsible for everything, cook dinner together as a family on the nights you all have the time to contribute (or even the nights you all need to pitch in to get it done quickly!).
3. On the night that everyone is busy except two of you, have a date night.
4. If you can’t all gather for dinner, try meeting for breakfast or brunch. It’s not the time of the meal that it is important, it is the gathering of family and conversations that matter.
5. Don’t ditch your family for friends (or boy/girlfriends); ask them to join your family for dinner! Then, maybe you can go to their family’s house for dinner next time.
6. Get out the good China, fancy table cloths and candles. Make dinner together special and memorable. Don’t save those things only for the guests, use them for the people who are most special to you.
7. Create fun traditions and theme nights. A few ones to try: Taco Tuesdays, Breakfast for Dinner, or Dessert First!
8. If you already are a family that eats together, invite a friend over for dinner that doesn’t have that opportunity. Share your blessings!