Thursday, 11 June 2009

In a Piece of Cake

Here was I, filled with devotion, bringing Holy Communion to a senior citizen. His immediate greeting… “I’m tired of telling you, what is best for me is a nice rich cake!”

This was hardly the time to remind him of the words of Jesus, “Seek first the kingdom of Heaven and all the rest will be added to you.” This was not the occasion for me to embark on an explanation of the relative values of Holy Communion and a tasty home-made cake. His heart and mind were not up to that kind of talk. They were cake-centred.

So my ancient friend set me off on a train of thought. All sorts of things grab our attention and for the moment become the priorities of our lives. There are those of us who have been totally absorbed in an exciting Cricket Match. Others, in their hundreds, have had an exam fixation. The thoughts of some are in a turmoil, night and day, because of strife in their homes. Less traumatically, but still vividly, this aged gentleman was day-dreaming about the delights of a rich cake.

For the time being, this was where each of these people was at. It does not define their spirituality. Probably not one of them would have relegated God to the second or bottom in the league of their concerns. Not one of us, however, will be always thinking of God, and only God. This does not have to mean that we ever actually exclude Him from our lives. He can be securely in the background, ever present and from time to time we make him the immediate focus of our attention.

I reflect that we meet people as they are going about their business, in their moments of relaxation and in their times of deep concern. We meet them with our own preoccupations and them with theirs – I, intent on my Eucharistic Ministry, my friend with nothing on his own mind, but a nice rich cake. Our thoughts do not instantaneously mesh together. It may seem that we are moving in different worlds.

Not really different worlds, but one world, God’s world, our world. This is the world that God made and loves. He loves us as we plunge into all kinds of activities, as we set our hearts on things great and small. God is satisfied if we live in an environment that is confident of His abiding presence and if from time to time we put all else aside to turn to Him.

As I pursue this line of thought I find that I am giving significance to the ordinary things in the ordinary lives we lead. Now we have these sayings, “I know where you are coming from,” and “I understand where you are at now.” But do we actually care about this? Are we interested in what interests other people? At the very time they have this over-riding preoccupation of theirs?

I am disturbed as I ask myself whether I trivialise the concerns of others. Do I attempt to switch their immediate attention to what is on my mind, brushing aside what is important to them in favour of what is important to me?

Now I find that I am to reach God, my way, by recognising Him in other people, precisely where they are presently at, not where I am at. In other words, I am to respect the humanity that God has given them. I am to enter into their worlds, which God inhabits as much as He inhabits my world.

Thank you, old fellow, for letting me know that you were thinking that the best thing for you would be a nice rich cake. I am sure it would do me no harm either.

Peter Clarke O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God in ‘Ordinary Time.’


  1. Thank you Fr.Peter for an interesting incident. I was disappointed in 'the old fellow's' attitude...If he'd received the Lord by saying,'I'd like to give you a nice rich cake if I had one but welcome all the same.' Then I would have enjoyed that..However, maybe he was slightly demented and didn't realise WHO was paying him a loving visit...

  2. This experience of Fr Peter's made me chuckle! Recently I had to refuse an invitation to a house Mass because I had tickets to see a production of a musical show on the same day. When I rang to offer apologies the woman on the other end laughingly said that the theatre would proably do me as much good!
    Neither of us took the comment literally as there is no comparison but just at that time it was good for me to be carrying on with my life.