Church of open commensality
Jesus was accused of being “a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and other sinners.”(Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34).
It was a hostile attack, meant to be dismissive and undermining. But it was anything but that. This comment was true, and on Jesus' side his behaviour was intentional!
This observation marvelously grasped the essence of his ministry. Just look up all those parables about eating, feasting and preparing food.
Then, even more importantly, look at how often the gospels speak about eating or feasting with Jesus. Even that famous miracle of turning water into wine in Cana of Galilee: it was not about a bottle or two, it involved no less than 100 gallons of choice wine: 100 gallons!
Eating and drinking with others was at the center of Jesus' ministry. Jesus intentionally and provocatively gathered people around his table who would otherwise hardly ever sit together.
A prostitute in the family living room of a city mayor. The homeless and beggars at the table with the business elite (those famously corrupt state contractors and bankers). Who could be surprised that so many people felt uncomfortable?! This radically egalitarian table community stood at the center of Jesus’ ministry. This was his primary way of modeling, anticipating and beginning to create a new order of divine rule (Kingdom of God).
Clearly, many people did not like it. They disliked it so intensely that they thought they could eliminate this vision by getting rid of this provocative visionary. Thank God their murderous plan did not work! Every time we celebrate Holy Communion we dine with the resurrected. We personally perpetuate and participate in this revolutionary salvific vision of a new divine order, where there is enough sustenance, enough hope, enough forgiveness and enough welcome for anyone willing to enter.