Your Table is Ready
August 31, 2014
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mt 16:21-27

The tragic circumstances surrounding the recent passing of comedian Robin Williams gives new meaning to some of his “one-liners” that caused audiences to erupt in laughter. For example, Williams once observed: “Death is nature’s way of telling you that your table is ready!” Actually, that is a very profound observation. Death, for many if not most, means a place at the heavenly banquet, in the company of the angels and saints, is all prepared. Unfortunately, because of emotional and physical issues, this man who brought so much entertainment and joy to others became too impatient to wait for the summons.

Taking a bit of liberty with “the joke” that is so deeply rooted in truth, I would like to suggest that: Baptism is Jesus’s way of telling you that your Tables are ready! Through Baptism, we are invited to the Sacred Banquet of Eucharist, first stopping at the Table of the Word in order to enhance our appetite for what is served up at the Communion Table…the Body and Blood of Christ! This Sunday’s Gospel encourages us to consider how we make our entrance!

When some people move through a room full of diners to the table that has been prepared for them, they do so with arrogance and a sense of entitlement. Confident that they are worthy of everyone’s attention and admiration, they make a grand entrance. Others, for whatever reason, are so self-conscious that they follow the maître de, hoping to pass through the room unnoticed. And then there are the people who “take it all in.” Making their way to their place, for them, is part of the entire experience of fine dining. They take in and savor the environment.

This might cause one to wonder if possibly the manner in which we make our way from the pew to the Communion Table is indicative of how we are moving through life waiting for nature to tell us our table is ready.

Before taking her place at the heavenly banquet, the great Vatican II theologian, Monika K. Hellwig, reflecting on this Gospel, wrote: It is a distorted human self-centeredness that pits personal safety and well-being before all else and therefore loses meaning and purpose, identity and community. This is the heritage and distortion of sin. This is a fancy way of cautioning us not to make a “grand entrance.” We should, however, be completely self-conscious of who we are…or better still…who and what we have become through Baptism.

Having shared in Christ’s death and resurrection, we are called to follow Him to our place at the heavenly banquet, the entire time “taking it all in” and savoring the environment; in other words, appreciating the entire experience of Eucharist. As we make our way to the Communion Table, we should be aware of our fellow diners…mindful of their needs. And we should not try to pass through the community unnoticed. Rather, we should draw attention to ourselves through our service to others.

Jesus prepared the eternal banquet. Jesus extends the invitation. Jesus leads us on our journey through time. And if we follow Him in a life of service to others, there is great meaning and purpose to what we say and do…even in our suffering!