The Feast is a medieval celebration instituted at a time when the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was not understood as being as closely tied to the Mass as it is today. However, it is not incompatible with our new liturgical understanding so long as we realize that in effect it is an extension of the Eucharist banquet.
The discourse in today's Gospel is a theological reflection on the Eucharist written for the early Christians and not an actual dialogue which occurred during Jesus' life. Those who are pictured as contending with Jesus are in fact straw persons that are there to give the Evangelist an opportunity to present his theological and mystical reflections on the Eucharist.
Translated into modern parlance (and oversimplified) the message is that it is the community we celebrate with God and one another in the Eucharist that becomes the center of our lives and the promise of a banquet which will never end.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time, Maggie and Jack, newly-weds moved into a small apartment complex in a new city, far from their hometown. Soon after they arrived, they were invited to an end of summer barbecue on the rooftop of their apartment complex and met most of their neighbors. However, one man in the complex never returned their good morning greetings. The others in the building referred to him as the grouch in 6A or even just as 6A. No one knew his story. Maggie often wondered why he was so unfriendly. Jack told her not to concern herself with him. He had a right to his privacy. Maggie and Jack were not going home for Thanksgiving.
The day before Thanksgiving as Maggie prepared all the traditional dishes her Mom made, she wondered again about 6A. Would he go somewhere for Thanksgiving? Did he have anyone to go to or anywhere to go? She suggested to Jack that since they had so much food, she having cooked from her mother's recipes that feed many more than two people, maybe they should invite 6A for dinner. Jack was about to say no when he saw that homesickness was setting in so he said, "Ok but be prepared to be turned down. 6A doesn't seem like he wants to get involved with anyone."
First thing Thanksgiving morning, Maggie knocked on 6A's door and rattled on about having so much food and being alone because they lived too far to go home and it was their first Thanksgiving and she didn't want to be feeling down and making Jack feel bad because they couldn't go home and would he please join them so it would seem a bit more than just a regular dinner.
At first the startled man looked like he would refuse but when he saw Maggie getting a little teary eyed, he said he would join them and he would bring some wine. Maggie and Jack agreed they would not pry. If Bill, 6A's name, wanted to tell them anything, they would listen but not ask questions. Things were a bit strained at first; but as Jack and Bill watched football and Maggie put the finishing touches on dinner, Bill seemed to relax a bit. As they ate, Bill seemed to relax even more and over coffee and pumpkin pie, he told them his story.
Two years before while he was on a business trip, a disgruntled former employee went to Bill's home, killed his wife and three children and burnt down their house. Life no longer seemed worth living. This was the first time he had socialized since the tragedy. He thanked them for their invitation and left shortly after that revelation. Now I won't exaggerate and said that from then on Bill was friendly to everyone. But he did begin to return people's hellos and the following summer when Maggie and Jack hosted the end of summer party, he came and brought a Caesar salad. He told Maggie it was the only thing he knew how to make.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O
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