Thursday, September 6, 2018

Jesus' Open Table Inspires Inclusive Eucharistic Celebrations Today in Communities Led by Women Priests- "All People Are To Be Included as Equals in the Community of God's People"

My Response: In our international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement we invite all God's people to gather as equals- including those on the margins of our Church- to celebrate Eucharist. All are welcome not just those who obey the rules. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,,

When we reflect on the central meaning of the Eucharist, we look to "Jesus’ own apparent joy in sharing meals with people of the Galilean countryside. The open table of Jesus’ public life challenged the discriminatory social code of honor and shame which denied the Jewish peasantry the right to share meals with members of other social classes. By embracing an open table, Jesus taught a seminal truth of the Reign of God: all people are to be included as equals in the community of God’s people. The Eucharist can mean no less for us today." 
(Robert C. Wild (2004), Sacred Presence, 138)

Meals are the most frequent settings for Gospel stories. They range from informal picnics on hillsides to banquets given by dignitaries. They introduce us to some of the most of diverse and colorful of Gospel characters: a woman with long hair who washes Jesus’ feet, a little boy who has loaves and fishes hidden in the folds of his robe, and a short man, named Zacchaeus, who is about to have an unexpected dinner guest. Meals transport us from the wedding in Cana to a quiet dinner at a little house in Emmaus. They invited us to a party for a prodigal and let a share of a Passover supper with a carpenter’s son.

Meals also function as a context for the central themes of the Gospels– abundance, forgiveness, respect, compassion, love. Here, as the center-piece of Luke’s Gospel, the dinner at the Pharisees house brings all of these topics together in a lesson about who is welcome at our tables.

This theme of inclusivity is one of the benchmark of Jesus’ teaching. Everyone ought to have a place at the table, especially those who have been marginalized. Obviously, this includes many who do not qualify for the guest list–people who have been relegated to the back roads and slums of the towns. When we give a luncheon, we need to make sure that no one who wants to be there is left out. Inclusivity is a Gospel mandate. It is not separate from Sabbath observance, but essential part of it. (Fran Ferder & John Heagle (2002), Tender Fires, 159-160)

The great challenge today is to convert the sacred bread into real bread, the liturgical peace into political peace, the worship of the Creator into reference for the Creation, the Christian praying community into an authentic human fellowship. It is risky to celebrate Eucharist. We may have to leave it unfinished, having gone first to give back to the poor what belongs to them. (Raimundo Panikkar, 197

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