Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Invitation to the Banquet - Second Sunday after Pentecost

"A certain man made a great supper, and invited many" (Lk 14:16-24). This is God who makes the supper, the great supper is His Kingdom where souls will find full abundance of spiritual blessings while on earth, and eternal happiness in the next life. This is the real meaning of the parable, but we may also see in the supper and in the man preparing it, the figure of the Eucharistic banquet and of Jesus, inviting men to partake of His Flesh and Blood. The Church sings: "The table of the Lord is set for us, Wisdom [the Incarnate Word] has prepared the wine and laid the table" (Roman Breviary). Jesus Himself, when announcing the Eucharist, addressed His invitation to all: "I am the Bread of life! He that cometh to Me shall not hunger, and he that believeth in Me, shall never thirst...Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die" (Jn 6:35.49.50). St John Chrysostom says: "He whom the angels look upon with fear, and dare not gaze upon steadfastly because of His dazzling splendour, becomes our Food; we are united to Him, and are made one body and one flesh with Christ" (Roman Breviary). Jesus could not offer man a more precious banquet than the Eucharist, yet, how do men answer His invitation? Many just shrug their shoulders, with skeptical smile on their lips: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:53), others are too attached to earthly goods or pre-occupied with business affairs and refuse His invitation: "I have bought a farm and I must needs go out and see it; I pray thee, hold me excused" "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them; I pray thee, hold me excused" they say. Others are so immerse in pleasures of senses, that they lost their taste for the things of the spirit, and go their way, not even asking to be excused.

All these excuses are for things that in the end vanish as quickly as mist before the sun and still are preferred to Christ's Gift, the Bread of Angels and the pledge of eternal life. But even those who follow Christ's invitation but accept it coldly, almost through force of habit, and they are those whom Christ has invited to follow Him and whom He has called by the sweet name of friend. How often Jesus finds the hearts of His friends filled with thousands thoughts, trifles, and wordily affections, while there is so little room for Him, the divine Guest! Yet, everything should be reserved for Him. Let us say sorry to our Beloved for every unnecessary and useless thought and trifle that took our heart and make us forget Him even while approaching the Banquet Table. And let us say how much we desire to love him and have Him always imprinted in our hearts.

Let us pray with St Augustine: "O Sacrament of mercy! O seal of unity! O bond of charity! He who wishes to live, finds the home and the dwelling where he can live. O Lord, I approach Your table with faith, there to become incorporated in You in order to be vivified by You" and "Grant, O Lord, that I may be inebriated with the riches of Your house, and let me drink from the torrent of Your delights. Since You are the fountain of life, there with You, and not elsewhere, is the source of my life. I will drink of it in order to live; I will not rely upon myself and be lost; I will not be satisfied with what I have and die of thirst; I will approach the source of the spring where the water never fails".

Based on 'Divine Intimacy' meditations.