It's no fun cooking for just one person, so I make a lot of food. I get it from my Grandma. She fed everyone who walked in her door. We always felt comfortable rummaging through the fridge when we went to her house, knowing there would be some leftovers, and that nothing was off-limits. Even when her ten children grew up and moved away from home, Grandma never quite learned how to cook meals for just two people. She loved to make lots of food for her large family whenever we got together.
So there's something about food that says "hospitality" to me. I'm not the best entertainer or joke-teller, and I can't do any parlor tricks for my guests, but food--food I can do pretty well. Today I'd like to talk about the role of food in the gospel.
When the Savior finished His Olivet discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of His second coming, He followed up His doomsday prophecies with instructions on how to prepare for His return. To illustrate the principles He taught, He gave three parables--the parables of the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats (see Matt. 25). He then taught them of the eschatological consequences of their mortal actions:
"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink...Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?...And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:34-40).
In listing charitable acts expected of true Christians, Christ explicitly lists feeding the hungry. And when we feed hungry people, the Lord makes it clear that that act has the same eternal reward as feeding the Savior Himself. Your guest therefore represents Christ to you, and in feeding Him you nourish the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
I remember one occasion last year when a roommate and I were making food for an acquaintance and his wife, who were coming to dinner that evening. A mutual friend wandered in and, observing the preparations for dinner already well underway, the rolls rising in the corner while the soup simmered on the stove, one of us setting the table while the other made the salad dressing, she remarked, "Wow! This is fancy! Who are you having over for dinner? The President?"
I quoted to her the Savior's words in the book of Matthew, and then asked simply, "If Jesus were coming to dinner, what would you feed Him?" She laughed.
It was an honor to eat with our friends that night, as we came to understand Paul's admonition: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2). They were angels indeed, and they blessed our home with their presence.
I guess my point is this: I like feeding people. (And I'll feed you, if you're hungry!) It's one of the ways I show love. And I've come to realize that when I see my guests as representatives of the Savior, I am less inclined to judge them and more inclined to learn from them. After all, if Christ came to dinner I would ask Him to teach me--and everyone I meet has something to teach me, if I am humble enough to learn from even "the least of these my brethren."