Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
(Isaiah 25:6-10a; Matthew 15:29-37)
Christians the world over feast on Christmas. In Mexico many families enjoy turkey. Italians have traditionally given culinary attention to the Christmas Eve meal. First, an antipasto of cheeses, olives and perhaps shrimp and cuttlefish is served with white wine. Then pasta in a tomato sauce made with clams is presented. A red wine will accompany it. The “second plate” will feature a variety of fish and seafood – always cod and usually lobster. Salad is served on the side or after the main dish. Fruit is then brought to the table. The meal concludes with cakes, coffee, and liqueurs. No meat is given perhaps because abstinence was mandated for many centuries on Christmas Eve. It also is true that by featuring fish, a symbol of Christ, the banquet anticipates midnight Mass. In these ways Italians approximate the celestial banquet of which Isaiah tells in today’s first reading.
Isaiah is giving comfort to the people of Israel. He or probably a later prophet has just predicted the tumultuous “Day of the Lord.” Now God reveals His purpose. Judgment and punishment had to come so that all peoples could love one another as children of the same Father. Jesus Christ has fulfilled this end by the paschal event. He also has mandated that his followers recreate the victory of love over sin by a regular feast. So we come together for this Eucharist.
Our Christmas celebration should take on the meaning of the celestial banquet feast. We should give thanks to God for the blessing of so many kinds of sisters and brothers. Perhaps we can invite people of other cultures and even faith traditions to our Christmas table. There we may share the hope that the entire world will soon live together in peace. Of course, we will leave the table charged to bring that peace into our daily lives.