[Diocesan Bishop of Kollam Diocese, Marthoma Church]


"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come....Then he said to his slaves, The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast. Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests." [St.Mathew 22:2-10]

The cited scripture portion draws attention to a banquet or a feast. Banquet insinuates to celebration or a luxurious festivity divulging abundance and sumptuousness. Present-day culture is that of a banquet. The essence and epitome of this refinement, we call by the fond name Globalization. Everything in a global stature got a tinge of macro nature. Though once we cogitated 'Little as beautiful', now we are attuned with the phrase, 'Big is beautiful'. The monopoly of modern Super Markets cause eventual depletion of traditional village markets. Now nobody cares for family get together, all are interested in Mega Family Melas. Simple micro-frameworks have given way for all-encompassing ultra-generic-striving frameworks.

We learned the lessons of feasts from Jesus Christ in New Testament. In the simplicity of life, Lord Jesus made serious instructions through common conversations. Our Lord Jesus laid down example of profitable edifying discourse at our tables, when we are in company with our friends and relatives in feasts. We are familiar with many such occasions in the New Testament where Jesus took part in feast and eventually it turned out as a venue for His public mission.

The occasion of the beginning of the signs of Jesus and manifestation of His Glory, itself was in the feast of a marriage in an obscure corner of the Galilee. [St. John 2:1-11] Christ and His mother and disciples were principal guests at this celebration. There was a compelling want at this marriage feast. The mother of Jesus solicited Jesus to help out in this difficult situation. The water-pots were filled up to the brim by the servants at Christís word. It is worthy to note here that Jesus did the marvelous things with association of the servants of the house who were considered unimportant after the preparatory hard works.

Another occasion of a feast we read in St. Luke 7:36-50. This scripture portion is also another discourse of our Savior, in which He spiritualizes the feast he was invited to. One of the Pharisees desired Jesus that He would dine with him. Lord Jesus accepted his invitation, went into his house, and sat down to meat. An unnamed sinner woman in the city entered the house, stood behind Jesus at His feet, weeping in deep humiliation for her sins. She began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair and kissing His feet and anointing them with perfume. Jesus taught us at this feast that one, who is forgiven more, loves Him more.

I would like to present here four thoughts to ponder on in connection with the feast.

  1. The Kingdom of God is identical to a Feast: That the Son of man came eating and drinking, conversing familiarly with all sorts of people; not declining anyone in the society neither publicans nor the Pharisees, accepting the friendly invitations both of the one and the other and being good to all. He ate and mingled with all, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, elite and downtrodden, all class of people alike. He pledged his solidarity with sinners, publicans and prostitutes. This is an experience of a feast and at the same time that of Kingdom of God. The Holy Communion what we are partaking is the foretaste of the Kingdom of God. Kingdom of God is one which is already come and is coming. Eating and drinking is not of the utmost importance in the feast of the Kingdom of God. St. Paul teaches us: "For the Kingdom of God are not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." [Romans 14:17] As the second petition, in the Lord's Prayer we pray, 'Thy Kingdom come.í Where God reigns, there is the Kingdom of God. While giving rules about feasting, Jesus told, blessed are they that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Christ promised His disciples that they should eat and drink with him in his kingdom. They were the partakers of the Lordís Supper and ate bread in the Kingdom of God. Christ invited the whole nation and people of the world to partake in his gospel feast. There is provision enough for as many as come and this feast was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah.

  2. Discipleship is identical to a Feast: Partaking in a value based feast is discipleship. Lord called His disciples to be with Him and to be sent. Jesus is calling all to His discipleship for lived experience. It was the experience what the twelve disciples received while they were with Jesus for 31/2 years. It is an experience to taste and see that God is good. Jesus called His disciples as friends. Friends are the ones who dine with Him. Discipleship is costly, dear and expensive as it is companionship with the Cross. The present day friendship is a give-and-take friendship. If you give companionship to me, I too will give companionship to you. Jesus wished His disciples to live with Him and eat with Him.

  3. Word of God is a Feast: Psalmist says from his own experience that the Word of God is sweeter than honey to his mouth. They are more desirable than gold, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

    Lord Jesus Christ, when He reposed himself hard, reached near Jacobís well. Being wearied with His journey, He sat thus on the well. His disciples went into the city to buy food. Jesus gave a spiritual discourse to the Samaritan woman and told her "whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.". He told to the returning disciples, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." Further Jesus clarified them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." Jesus had opened the treasure of the Word of God to His disciples to enjoy to the fullest extend. Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of Lord and in His law he mediate day and night. We read that Jesus delighted in the Word of God from His early age. To meditate in Godís word is to discourse with ourselves and to achieve vitality with the appropriate nourishment.

    In the Old Testament Lord God told Ezekiel, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." He opened his mouth and Lord fed him the scroll. Ezekiel fed the stomach and filled his body with the scroll which God gave him. He ate it and found it was sweet as honey in his mouth.

  4. Holy Communion is a Feast: Holy Eucharist, the Messianic banquet, is a rejoicing festivity and a sign of plenteousness or jubilation. God makes us guests of honor and serves up the Body and Blood of Christ as our totem meal. The establishment of the Eucharist itself was taken place in the atmosphere of a Feast. In the night of the feast of Passover, while they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed, broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He had taken the cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." All the legal feasts of rejoicing were summed up in this sacrament. Jesus broke the bread and distributed it as the father of a family or the Master of a feast does it. He was bruised for our iniquities, as a bread is broken. Jesus told formerly that He is the bread of life [John 6:35]; and upon this metaphor, this sacrament of Holy Eucharist is built. As Jesus told us to celebrate it for the ages till His Second Coming, Holy Eucharist is a feast of feasts.

Lord prepares and lays out two tables before us. One provides an intellectual feast of the Word of God to nourish, purify and inspire with words. The second table is laden with the sacramental feast of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us the basic norms for calling for the feast. "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment." [Luke 14:12] Invite the poor and maimed, who have nothing to live upon, nor are able to work for their living. They are objects of charity who want necessaries and God will recompense us with His blessings.

[Extract from Devotional Message delivered at Maramon Convention 2008
Original in Malayalam : Translated for LOL by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]

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