Love like Christ’s warms guests at the table
I’ll admit, the popular image of The Sacred Heart of Jesus didn’t always inspire me. My grandmother had it pinned on her wall. Jesus was shown with His hair parted in the middle, head slightly tilted, looking very concerned like an “active listening” counselor. He also had an exposed heart crowned with thorns, pierced, with a little flame on top. It was puzzling to me at the time.
I appreciate how the Sacred Heart image focuses on Jesus’ heart, because it shows His passion and desire for people to know His love in order to share in it. And I can easily see in my mind’s eye that Jesus frequently sat at a table eating with sinners. Not only is the Feast of the Sacred Heart celebrated this year on June 8, but it is commemorated on the first Friday of each month. In asking Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in His apparitions to her in the late 1600s to help institute the Feast as well as the first-Friday devotions to His Sacred Heart, Christ is really revealing the great “fire” in His heart representing his ever-burning unquenchable love for us, and His desire to be loved in return. In the Gospels, He likewise revealed this love when He met people at the table.
The table is the place where Jesus shared His Sacred Heart in exchange for the heart of the tax collector, prostitute, foreigner, and the hard-hearted. His heart was utterly visible and understandable with His disciples in the Upper Room, and at the Sea of Galilee when he asked Peter, “Do you love me?” “Feed my sheep!”
Jesus’ sacred, shepherding heart is the reason why I started www.PlatingGrace.com, www. TheTableFoundation.com, and especially my new effort, a podcast called, “Shoot the Shiitake with Father Leo.” As an “audio cast,” I do more listening to my guests – people of all different backgrounds – including the type of people Jesus would meet at His table (i.e., sinners and those far from God’s love).
Because of the Sacred Heart, I endeavor to engage this divided world, creating true dialogue and opportunities for conversation and hopefully conversion. While I can’t give everyone the Eucharist, I can represent the Presence of Jesus with my own heart, as I try to unite through listening, sharing, and feeding people who are hungering for the love of Jesus in their lives.
The pious image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one that may not be readily understood by everyone, but if we receive the Eucharist, then we are called to become the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart to others. What does that look like for you? I hope the image becomes more clear to you at your next dinner gathering — with family, friends, your “enemies,” strangers, and foreigners, sinners and saints alike.
FR. LEO E. PATALINGHUG, Catholic priest, chef, TV & radio host, best-selling author, renowned conference speaker & corporate presenter, founder of GraceBeforeMeals.com.
Shiitake Mushroom Cream Pasta
1 pound of linguine or spaghetti, boiled al dente
1/2 pound of shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean and
1 anchovy filet
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
2-3 Tbsp. of fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup of white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. of black pepper
1-2 tsp. of grated parmesan cheese per serving
2 tsp. of salt
Cook pasta al dente, reserving 1 cup of starchy pasta water. In large sauce pan, melt butter and add anchovy filet, mashing with fork into smaller flecks. Add shallot, garlic, parsley and sauté until shallots soften and are translucent. Add mushrooms and sauce for 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add whipping cream and cook over low heat. Add sauce to pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Add the starchy water, a few tablespoons at a time, and mix the pasta into sauce until desired consistency. Serve with more minced parsley and grated parmesan cheese.