52 Weeks at the Table – Week 38
As Matthew relates his gospel, Jesus encounters him at the tax collector’s booth in the middle of traveling and miraculously restoring the paralyzed, the blind and mute, the internally bleeding ill and even a little girl who had died. Matthew invites Jesus to dinner at his house with some of his tax collector friends, and the Pharisees are scandalized that Jesus sits down to dine with them. John the Baptist’s disciples are scandalized that they fast and His disciples don’t.
To the Pharisees, He says that it is the sick who need healing; not the healthy, and He recommends that they discover the meaning of mercy over sacrifice — and he is the only gospel writer to include this detail from Hosea 6:6. To John’s disciples, He predicts a time of mourning when the Bridegroom is taken and fasting will be appropriate; when new wine will be poured into new wineskins – because old ones could not contain it. In the meantime, He shares the table with those who hunger and thirst; those whose spiritual health is in need; those who recognize that their long fast is finally over, and the Messiah is serving.
A Prayer Over the Bread
Our God, our Father, our Holy and Righteous One … we are in need of being restored as surely as the paralyzed, the blind, the mute, the bleeding and the dead. We are honored that You have chosen us to dine at Your table, though we have sinned as surely as any tax collector among Matthew’s friends. Thank you for Your mercy in providing the Sacrifice we needed in order to share in this table of Your Presence. Thank you for this bread, the body of Your Son. Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
You, our heavenly Father, have given a Bridegroom in troth to us, His bride, at the price of His very life. Make us new in order to receive Him; make us worthy to contain this new wine of Your mercy, Your healing, Your restoration of us to a relationship with You as children of Your grace. May it always be so.