Sunday, 14 February 2016
‘We are not worthy so much as to
gather up the crumbs under your table’
This has been a busy working weekend. There has been a field trip with students to the shrine of Saint Valentine in Whitefriar Street in inner-city Dublin; a series of lectures for the reader training programme; dissertation supervision; and a celebration of the Eucharist this morning at the end of a residential weekend for MTh students.
Later this afternoon, I was at the ordination of a former student, who was ordained priest in Christ Church Cathedral.
The Prayer of Humble Access is always a moving spiritual moment at celebrations of the Eucharist:
We do not presume to come to this your table,
trusting in our own righteousness
but in your manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
But you art the same Lord,
whose nature is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body,
and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
This morning, as I stood at the altar presiding at the Eucharist, I was taken aback by the words, “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.”
Last night, I had watched a short video of two abandoned children caught up in Syria’s bloody civil war fending for themselves by picking up crumbs of bread from the street to eat.
These two homeless mites, who are braver than any groups fighting or waging war in Syria, tell the camera crew: “We go to sleep hungry, we wake up hungry.”
The 10-year-old girl says she has been collecting bread crumbs off the street with her brother because their area of Damascus, al-Hajar, has been under siege for more than 15 months.
“If we had food, you wouldn’t have seen us here.”
But their final message to the world that has abandoned them is: “May you be happy and blessed with what God has given you!”