March 28, 2010


Palm Sunday
Luke 22:14 - 23:56

The Meal for Sinners - The Meal of God's Kingdom

In Luke's Gospel, Jesus shares many meals with people. The highlights are the meals he shares with sinners and the social outcasts (Levi, Zacchaeus, tax collectors, public sinners). But he also sits with the Pharisees and religious leaders (7:36-50; 11:37-54), who oppose him, and are guilty of self-righteousness.

Even in the Old Testament, the meal is already used as an image of God's Kingdom. Continuing that tradition, Jesus' meals indicate who are invited to God's Kingdom.

And now, "When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the apostles." Like others who have shared meals with Jesus, the apostles are sinners and people with human flaws and weaknesses. One of them, "whose hand is with [Jesus] on the table" will betray him. Peter will deny him. The rest, "all his acquaintances stood at a distance" when he is crucified.

To this weak and flawed disciples, Jesus shares his last meal.

Morever, he promises to pray for Peter, and installs him as the leader of his followers, "Simon, Simon, I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”

And, Jesus invites all of them to the table in the Father's Kingdom. "I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

The invitation to the meal of the Word of God made flesh and the Eucharist is now offered to us sinners. The Kingdom of God continues to welcome all.

This reflection is based on the Commentary by Fr. Francis J. Moloney, SDB, in The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings, Year C. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1991; p. 82-84.

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