Our Family Meal

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We’re entering into the season of holidays and parties, of get-togethers and dinners. As we snack through our leftover Halloween candy, many of us are already planning our Thanksgiving feasts. It seems the most natural thing in the world to share food with those we love. Even if our family meals come pre-loaded with memories of past hurts or the anxiety of differing politics or lifestyles sitting down together at one table. Sharing a meal is fundamental to our human celebrations and remembrances.

It’s no wonder that our most intimate expression of our faith in Jesus Christ is shared at His altar, in His Body and Blood—the Holy Eucharist. This isn’t something invented by the Catholic Church, but is exactly what Christ instructed us to do at the Last Supper (Luke 22:19). Jesus taught so much of His love for us at mealtimes. The images in His parables were often of food or were food-related. We hear of wine and wineskins, of wheat and figs and vines and gardens. He chose fishermen as His first Apostles. The Last Supper was itself a Passover meal, the sacred meal shared by Jews as a renewal of the covenant God gave to them out of His love. Just before the Last Supper, Jesus shared the Sermon on the Mount as He fed the 5000 with the multiplied loaves and fishes. The Gospel of Luke is full of instances where Jesus taught His followers at meals and through meal images.

God always has a plan for us. His choice of covenant meals and food images is no more chance. From the very beginning God has been leading us to Holy Communion. Jesus was, after all, born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread.” In the Eucharist,we are united to Him as a family. Passover was a foreshadowing of the Eucharist just as circumcision was a foreshadowing of Baptism In the New Covenant we enter into an intimate family relationship with God. Jehovah becomes Abba, or “Daddy.” Jesus is both our savior, our brother, and our sacrificial meal. St. Paul teaches about the Eucharist in his first letter to the church at Corinth. We hear of the “cup of blessing” (I Cor. 10:16) as the Blood of Christ and the broken bread as His Body. “Through the one Bread, we, though many, are one body: all of us who are partakers of the one Bread (I Cor. 10:17). Through the Eucharist we are united both to Jesus and to our fellow believers. This is the Good News. Our new covenant is revealed and worshiped in every Mass.

For Catholics, the book of Revelation shows us the Mass in heaven. St. John and the Blessed Virgin Mary are worshipping with the angels at the wedding feast of the Lamb. Music and incense and a shared meal, in the very presence of the Holy Trinity offer us a glimpse of the world to come for believers. God’s plan for us is always one of drawing us closer to Him. The Old Covenant with Abraham made the Jews His family and set the stage for the coming of our Savior. In Jesus, we encounter the Living God, Who freely gave himself to the Father for our sins. He is our living sacrifice, offering His own Body and Blood as our nourishment and heavenly food.

The upcoming holiday season is a time of family fellowship and shared meals. Will it also be a time of shared faith? Will you worship together with your loved ones? Will you share the importance of our faith with your family and friends? Will you take some time from your busy schedule to share your time and your bounty with the poor? Before you get too caught up in the blur of the next couple of months, remember all that you have to be grateful for and the reasons we’re gathering together to share meals and fellowship. Give to those who have less. Give thanks. Go to confessions and repent of your sins. Return to the Lord and be welcomed to His heavenly banquet. Only Christ can satisfy our hungry souls.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
—–C. S. Lewis

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