On this Sunday, Jesus tells us the story of a banquet. [To see the words of the gospel, click here.] A king is celebrating the wedding of his son. Some people refuse to come; others are welcome. Many times Jesus used banquets and dinners to teach us something. Eating with Jesus changes us. We are with Jesus right now in the Eucharist. When we come together at Mass, He is with us.
So, here are some of the examples when Jesus used eating together to teach us: His first miracle happened when He went to a wedding celebration in a little town called Cana. He changed water into wine, sweet delicious wine. Wine was a sign of joy; God’s promise of happiness was accomplished with Jesus. Here in the Mass we have joy because we celebrate the Eucharist with Jesus. It is for us a great joy because Jesus is here with us.
Another example of a special meal with Jesus was the time when he met little Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector rich, important, powerful, but nobody liked him, why? Because tax collectors cheated people; they collected too much taxes. They became rich. Jesus wanted to eat a meal in his house with Zacchaeus, and during the meal Zacchaeus makes an announcement, “Because I am eating with Jesus, I am changed; I am different. If I stole anything or cheated anybody, I will give it back. If I took too much taxes, I will return it completely, why? Because here in this meal I see that Jesus accepts me and forgives me. It is true I cheated people in the past, but Jesus wants to forgive me my sins. Now I promise my life to change.” The same thing happens in our Mass, our Eucharist. We recognize that we are weak, imperfect; we sin. But Jesus comes to us at Mass, the Eucharist, to forgive us, to give us strength, to be better in the future.
The most important meal of Jesus was His Last Supper on the night before He died. It was a Passover celebration; Passover is a meal of freedom. Jesus was going to die the next day, give his life on the cross to save us. To show Jesus wanted to give Himself to us, He gave us His body and His blood in the Last Supper. He broke the bread and said, “Take, eat. It is my body given for you.” He said, “This is the cup of my blood, my life blood. I give it to you.” That is what happens in the Eucharist, the Mass; Jesus gives us His body in Holy Communion. He gives us His blood in the holy cup. Now because of the coronavirus, we cannot drink from the cup and that is very sad, but we know that the full person of Jesus comes to us when we receive the Body of Jesus in Holy Communion.
Then Jesus died on Good Friday and rose again on Easter Sunday. One of the first things on Easter Sunday in the afternoon Jesus had another meal. He met two disciples going to a little town called Emmaus. They were sad, disappointed, because Jesus was crucified; He was dead. Jesus explained to them from the prophets in the Old Testament that the Messiah had to suffer and die. When they came near to the place they were going, they asked Jesus to come and join them for a meal. During the meal Jesus breaks the bread, gives it to them, says, “Eat it. This my body, I give it to you. Because I am alive with you. I want to live in you.” It was the same words Jesus used at the Last Supper. The two of them see Jesus alive. And they know it is true; Jesus has risen from the dead. They immediately go back and tell the others that they have seen the risen Christ. They know it from the Eucharist they celebrated with him, the breaking of bread. From the simple Mass on Easter Sunday afternoon, they know Jesus is with us. He is alive.
The same thing happens now in the Eucharist; He breaks bread for us. Jesus is alive with us in the Eucharist in a very special way. The Mass, the Eucharist is the holy meal that Jesus eats with us. He is with us in the Mass.
One of the pictures of heaven is a big dinner celebration when everyone shares fully in the happiness and joy and the riches of heaven. Heaven is going to be a great banquet, a wonderful party that continues forever.
We experience the banquet of heaven here on earth. Every time we come together for Mass, we touch heaven because the Lord Jesus is with us. Now here on earth heaven touches us.
Let me end with a story: There was an older woman; she was very sick and she knew she was going to die soon. She asked the priest to come and help her prepare for her funeral. So the priest came, and they talked about the hymns she wanted for her funeral Mass and the Bible readings. Then she said to the priest, “I have a strange request. In the coffin I know they will put the rosary in my hands. But I want you to put a fork in my hand, too, why? I have been to many different celebrations and dinners at church. And sometimes after the main meal is finished when they come to take away the plates and spoons and knives, the person in charge will say, ‘Save your fork; don’t let them take your fork away.’ I hear that and I know something very good is coming for dessert, maybe a nice chocolate cake or a good apple pie. When I heard the words ‘Save your fork,’ I knew the best part of the meal was coming. That’s what dying means for me. The best is coming. The best part of life, why? I will join the banquet of heaven. That’s why I want a fork in my hands when I die.”