Day 35: Love bade me welcome

Amongst our 40 meditations on the Mass, we scatter prayers and poetry and hymns to help us reflect further on the deep meaning of the Eucharist.

This poem by George Herbert (1593-1632 ), a Welsh born poet and priest of the Church of England, is like a journey into love, with various stages travelled in just a few short verses.

Welcomed by Love, the subject seeks a more worthy guest at his table, but Love says ‘You shall be he.” Being content to simply serve at Love’s Table, Love bids him sit and eat.

In the Eucharistic banquet, we are given a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet. Though unworthy, Christ’s death has paid the price of our sin, he has “borne the blame.” And so, at the Eucharistic table we can say, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.’

 Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
 Guilty of dust and sin.
 But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
 From my first entrance in,
 Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
 If I lacked anything.
 ‘A guest,’ I answered, ‘worthy to be here.’
 Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
 ‘I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
 I cannot look on thee.’
 Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
 ‘Who made the eyes but I?’
 ‘Truth Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
 Go where it doth deserve.’
 ‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
 ‘My dear, then I will serve.’
 ‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat:’
 So I did sit and eat.
 George Herbert, 1593-1632 

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