The Eucharist and mission
Jesus: 'a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners'
Who Jesus ate with was a source of scandal for many of the religious leaders of his time. Some were quick to draw, what for them were, unfavourable comparisons between John the Baptist and his disciples and Jesus and his disciples.
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ” (Luke 7:33-35)
Jesus reveals the hospitality of God our Father
Jesus' response to this question or charge of his critics in Luke's Gospel is found in the three 'Parables of the Lost' culminating in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Through these parables Jesus asserts that his mission is to find the 'lost', the very people the scribes and pharisees object to him eating and celebrating with. Through the hospitality Jesus extends to the poor and those labelled as sinners, including the hated tax collectors, he is extending the hospitality of a merciful God, a Father like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son who is only concerned to lavish a welcoming love upon the son he thought to be lost to him.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus holds a mirror up to his critics in the character of the outraged elder son who refuses to join his father and younger brother in a feast to celebrate his brother 'being found' and restored to the family.
At the Last Supper, Jesus commands the disciples to eat and drink in memory of him. It is inconceivable that Jesus did not intend the disciples to continue his ministry of extending God the Father's hospitality, of continuing to share meals with those excluded from the tables of others. Like Jesus' meals, our celebration of the Eucharist should be an experience of God's merciful love, reconciling us to him and each other.
The Eucharist and the mission of Catholic schools
To be truly Eucharistic, to be true to the mission of Jesus, the Catholic school has to be a place of genuine welcome for all. Documents on the Catholic School all emphasise the importance of compassion and hospitality, especially to those families and students most in need.
"To these new poor the Catholic school turns in a spirit of love.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in God is Love that “Worship itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn." (n.14) He explains that there is something wrong with a Eucharistic celebration which does not find expression in real, concrete, loving actions.
The Eucharist, celebrated as a community, teaches us about human dignity, calls us to right relationship with God, ourselves and others, invites us to community and solidarity, and sends us on mission to help transform our communities, neighborhoods and world.