First, take time to center yourself in God's presence. Take a few deep breaths. Choose a word like "peace," or "God," or "love" to repeat when you exhale.
Next, visualize the place. Jesus has invited you to a meal. Imagine receiving this invitation, and the feelings it evokes in you. Picture a setting where you regularly share food with others. It is a place of comfort and camaraderie. Take time to notice the sights, sounds, smells, tastes. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere, the mood of the room. Picture the table and the meal that has been prepared.
Finally, ask for the grace to know the expanse and depth of God's love; how far it reaches, how deep it goes.
You are first sitting at the table with Jesus, and no one else. What does he look like to you? What does he say? What do you say to him? What is the feeling and mood that you experience?
Pause to allow for this conversation. What prayer would you lift up regarding your relationship with Jesus?
Now the most familiar, trusted people you know enter. They may be relatives or friends. Picture their faces. What do they say to you as they sit down? What do you say to them? What are the feelings and mood that you experience?
Pause to give thanks for the people you love most. Is there anything for which you'd like to lift them up in prayer?
Someone with whom you've lost contact or from whom you've drifted joins your meal. It could be a friend you've been wondering about or meaning to catch up with. What does he or she say as they sit down? What do you say to them? How does their presence affect the meal? What are the feelings and mood that you experience?
Pause to remember a relationship that has become distant. Is there anything for which you'd like to lift them up in prayer?
Someone from whom you are estranged, whom you find difficult, joins your meal. It could be a disagreeable coworker, a family member with whom you've clashed. What does he or she say as they sit down? What do you say to them? How does their presence affect the meal? What are the feelings and mood that you experience? What does it mean to you that they've been invited to this meal?
Pause to remember someone with whom you've had difficulty. Is there anything for which you'd like to lift them up in prayer?
Now visualize the entire table, with all the guests and Jesus, your host. Consider that he was the one who invited them and who welcomes them. Consider that he loves all of them, and you. What are the feelings and mood that you experience as you reflect on this?
Pause to think again about these relationships: with Jesus, with those closest to you, a relationship you've neglected, a relationship that is difficult. How is Jesus calling you to be more inviting and welcoming to them, as he has been?
Close with your own prayer, or with the one below:
Faithful God, who through Jesus invites and welcomes all to the table of grace, I thank you for the love you have shown me through the many relationships that have marked my earthly journey. I pray that I will reflect that same divine love to all whom I encounter. Help me to see how we are all called together to partake of what you offer. Amen.