Our Heavenly Banquet

Christ’s sacramental memorial making present his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension tells us about the Holy Eucharist. It all begins with a preparatory rite that involves purification and conversion of our souls. Through this we are absolved of our sins and our bodies become holy places for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Joel Osteen (b. 1963), a preacher and Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, felt, “God can cause opportunity to find you. He has unexpected blessings where you suddenly meet the right person, or suddenly your health improves, or suddenly you’re able to pay off your house. That’s God shifting things in your favor.” We undoubtedly bring our concerns to the Lord’s table and he often intervenes in our lives in unexpected ways.

The priest who presides at the Mass prays a collect. This is a collection of prayers – of the faithful of the community. He articulates this prayer from what is flowing from the hearts of the congregation. In the liturgy Christ Jesus is proclaimed as we welcome the good news of salvation. He becomes truly present in the Word read at the lectern. Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895), an African-American social reformer, statesman, and abolitionist was sure: “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.” With these readings we hear about promises, hope, struggles, trials, and tribulations but we are called to take up Christ’s cross and follow him.

These imperatives come alive in the homily which is a time to hear the Lord himself speak. Our understanding of this faith is nothing more than a true gift from God. With the creed we embrace his presence and declare our dependence on him. As M. Basil Pennington in The Eucharist Yesterday and Today revealed that God is the Maker, we are the made; he is the Savior, we are the saved, and makes us aware how much he really loves us. Symbolically, this is the breaking bread of the Word and sharing the two-thousand-year-old story of the historical Jesus of yesterday, today, and forever.

In the offertory rite it is remembered that God made us the exact way he desired. He made no mistakes and what he has planned for our lives are beyond our wildest dreams It reminds us that even when we experience the wounded crying out for help, we must realize that often it us God has assigned to fulfill their healing. In the Holy Eucharist, Christ himself meets us as a compassionate gift. It is through our prayer of thanksgiving that brings us his abundant blessings. Unimaginably, the Holy Eucharist is a meal and sacrifice wrapped up together into one. This is how we embrace his participatory love and become members of his mystical body.

Sunday Adelaja (b. 1967), a Senior Pastor of the Embassy of God – an evangelic-charismatic mega-church in Kiev, Ukraine, observed, “God’s favor in its fullness is that which allows strength to overcome with weakness, love to overcome hatred, God’s goodness to defeat Satan’s evil nature.” With the Holy Eucharist, many trials and challenges of life are being addressed. We are victors as we participate in our Lord’s heavenly banquet. Because we do experience the real presence of the Christ-God when we manifest acts of love and adoration at this rite. People are therefore brought forth to wholehearted empowerment.

Communicants now leave the table of the Lord with hope and expectations of great things to follow. Erwin K. Thomas (b. 1943), a retired professor of journalism and Christian author advised, “We must bend over backward, do a favor, and give and build confidence in people. It’s a time to compliment, support and acknowledge the good things people do.” We are surely blessed as participants in the Holy Eucharist.

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