We forgot how to Feast.

A friend of mine married into a wealthy family. His wedding day was 100% a feast. After Mass there was a garden party with served hors d’oeuvres and toasts of champaign. A cocktail hour followed with a buffet of appetizers which flowed into a seven course dinner with poured soup and perfect medium rare file mignon. Then we indulged in an incredibly moist and rich chocolate wedding cake. Just as I started to get hungry at 11 pm, huge trays of hamburgers and milk shakes were made available. We experienced a full on wedding banquet feast. 

I think we mostly don’t know what it is like to feast. Maybe that is because we don’t fast very well. There aren’t many days when I don’t get to eat something I enjoy much less a day I don’t get to eat enough. I don’t experience physical hunger very often. So something really has to be over the top for it to be considered a feast. 

To that end, partially because we don’t feast well, I don’t think we celebrate very well. We have few examples in our lives of true festival. While we might still celebrate holidays when they serve the consumer culture, we don’t throw festivals like we used to. We rarely gather with the larger community for true festival celebration.

Not knowing how to feast and not being good at fully engaging in festivals hurts our ability to look forward to and desire heaven. Heaven is a feast. Heaven is a festival. Heaven is a party that we never get tired of. Like any party, we receive an invitation to heaven and are expected to respond in some way.

How do you respond to an invitation to attend a feast, a festival? Sometimes we’re excited to go, but more often we kind of hem and haw as to whether we will attend. Imagine some getting the invitation to heaven but saying, “I’d like to go, but you know it is just going to be so busy. I don’t really know what the food is going to be like. I’m not sure I’m going to know anyone there. I mean, it sounds good, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll make an appearance and then get out quick. Then again, I’d have to get ready all over again. I’m not sure it’s worth the effort and I’m already in my comfy clothes. Maybe I’ll just stay home.” Sound familiar? 

While we should respond to any invitation with a yes or no, sometimes we don’t respond at all. Turns out, no response is a response.

In the gospel Jesus tells the story of a king who throws a wedding banquet for his son. The people originally invited all bail on the feast for practical reasons. So the king sent his servants out onto the road ways and invites whomever hey can find to come to the banquet.

The question this parable asks of each of us is whether we have accepted God’s invitation to dine with him. In other words, do you want to go to heaven? 

Will you accept Christ the King’s invitation to the greatest, grandest, most fulfilling of banquets. If the answer is yes, what do you have to do to get ready to attend? At the end of the parable Jesus explains that the king comes across a guest who isn’t wearing the formal wedding attire. In other words that guest wasn’t ready to feast! What do you need to get ready in your life in order to attend the banquet? What do you need to do to prepare for the feast?

LIVE IT: Take out a piece of paper, any scratch paper will do. Write out the words, “I accept.” Now post this paper somewhere you will see it everyday. Every time you see it simply prayer, “God I accept your invitation to a heavenly feast.” Pray it until it becomes 2nd nature. 

Sunday Readings for Oct. 11th, 2020.

What’s it going to take?

April 8th Sunday Readings.

Getting kids to eat whatever they don’t want to eat can be a monumental task. I realize Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplashthat there are strategies that work. Also, negotiation is not most effective way to get children committed to a power struggle to do what you ask them. And, there are times when getting a child to eat green beans or ham (depending on the kid or the moment) just boiling down to the questions, “What is it going to take?”

When faced with unbelief in the lives of our family or friends, or even in the dark corners of our own doubt, I think we could easily ask this question, “What is it going to take?” What is it going to take for you and I to really believe the good news of the gospel? What is it going to take for our sibling or parent or spouse or offspring to believe that Jesus is their Lord? What is it going to take?

In the gospel, we hear about Thomas who states clearly what it will take for him to believe. He says, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” It would appear that for Thomas it takes touching the wounds of Christ to believe. At first blush, this seems like a lack of faith. Thomas appears to be put conditions on what it will take for him to believe in the resurrection, but I think there is more going on here.

John, the gospel writer, never states whether Thomas actually touches the wounds of Christ. In fact, Thomas says, “My Lord and my God,” when he simply sees Christ. For Thomas encountering Jesus face to face is enough. Meeting Jesus is what it takes for Thomas to believe.

I believe this to be true for most of us. For most of us, we believe once we have had a face to face encounter with Jesus Christ. Christianity isn’t only a set of beliefs or a moral code, but it is a relationship with a person. To really meet the person of Christ (and not just the idea of Jesus) fundamentally changes us at our core.

When Thomas sees the resurrected Christ, he exclaims, “My Lord and my God.” This profession of faith is one of the most vivid and explicit in all the gospels. By giving Jesus the titles of both Lord and God, Thomas is proclaiming Jesus the same God as the God of his fathers, the Lord God of all Israel and the Old Testament. When we encounter Jesus face to face, we know Jesus is God.

Live It:
Jesus lives. If we really believe in the resurrection we will look for him now. Two suggestions: Look for Jesus in the Eucharist and in the poor.