Mt 9:9-13 and an Invitation

Written by Joel on June 9th, 2008

Sunday’s Gospel reading was form Matthew 9:9-13. It is about Matthew’s call to follow Jesus. Following the call Jesus has a meal with tax collectors as sinners, much to the disapproval of the Pharisees.

Our pastor preached a message of inclusion. He said that Jesus came specifically for sinners; he came to heal. Jesus did not ask for any membership cards in order to share a meal.

But then he started preaching a message I did not expect. He spoke of Jesus’ inclusion at table with sinners and tax collectors. He then turned and pointed to the altar and said that this Eucharistic table is also an open one. He said that it is inclusive, not exclusive. Jesus invites everyone to his table.

I felt a certain conviction to approach the altar. Not only because I believe it is something that I ought to do; but now also because I perceived the homily as a direct invitation. And so I received.

I still felt a bit awkward; that it was “sneaky.” It certainly was not guilt, but rather a social stigma. I was torn. To follow my conscience and participate because I believe Christ commanded this of all of his followers, and now the priest suggesting an open table. At the same time I know the institutional structures of the Roman Catholic Church forbid Eucharistic sharing.

The priest is aware that I am a Protestant Christian, and I was in the line next to his at the Eucharist. Following mass I did not feel any animosity from him. He asked how I was doing in school, and our anniversary plans. He didn’t draw me aside and tell me I was wrong. One cannot preach an inclusive sermon, without willing to accept the consequences that radical inclusion entails.

The message was not quite as explicit as I would have liked, but the message was clear. Still, I wonder why I feel the need to “get permission” to receive from anyone other than Christ?


 

5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Against Heterodoxy says:

    Your priest did a wrong and unorthodox thing, and sent the wrong message. You dismiss your feeling that you were doing something wrong as “social stigma.” The fact is that you sinned, and that the priest led you to sin. I am sorry he put you in that position, but you did take the bait with full knowledge that what you were doing was wrong. If you cannot accept the most basic of discipline, and if you cannot get away from the idea that every truth is contained in your personal interpretation of Scripture, then you are really a Protestant at your core. Don’t like silly old rules, even if there is a good chance that there are very good and valid reasons for those rules? Why, just make up your own. It’s the Protestant way.

    Peace be with you.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    [[The message was not quite as explicit as I would have liked, but the message was clear. Still, I wonder why I feel the need to "get permission" to receive from anyone other than Christ?]]

    If you had received the Eucharist from the hands of Christ our God, you would need no other’s permission, of course. But you received the Eucharist from the hands of a particular priest, who is under a specific bishop, in a specific church. Thus to receive the Eucharist in this way, you should be in union with that priest, that bishop, and that church, before you receive that Eucharist. Otherwise, you are, however innocently, receiving that Eucharist under false pretenses.

    The fact is that the meal described in Matthew 9:9-13 is not the “Last Supper”, and thus it bears no relationship to the Eucharist.

    Regards,
    James Clement, sinner

  3. Joel Walkley says:

    James, your statement “Thus to receive the Eucharist in this way, you should be in union with that priest, that bishop, and that church, before you receive that Eucharist.” Doesn’t quite set right with me.

    It makes it sound like the Eucharist is different in different settings. I believe however that the Eucharist is the same where-ever it is properly performed. Therefore, one must only be in union with Christ to receive him.

    I agree that Mt 9 is not the Lord’s Supper, and directly related. However Christ is consistent and this incident may inform the actions of Christ, and how he might have us act at his table.

  4. Jim Taylor says:

    Hi, Joel,

    [[James, your statement “Thus to receive the Eucharist in this way, you should be in union with that priest, that bishop, and that church, before you receive that Eucharist.” Doesn’t quite set right with me.

    It makes it sound like the Eucharist is different in different settings. I believe however that the Eucharist is the same where-ever it is properly performed. Therefore, one must only be in union with Christ to receive him.]]

    First of all, I need to clear up any confusion my inadequate choice of words has caused: the Eucharist, wherever it is genuine, is always the same; just as there is one God, so there is one Eucharist. However, different churches have different requirements for receiving that Eucharist. Some may require that one go to confession before receiving the Eucharist, and others do not. Some may require that one must fast from midnight on, in order to receive the Eucharist, and others may not require this. Since the Eucharist, like all Divine Mysteries, is done by God in union with His Church, those who receive it need also to be in union with the Church just as God is, and this means one must meet the requirements set forth by that church, or go elsewhere.

    [[I agree that Mt 9 is not the Lord's Supper, and directly related. However Christ is consistent and this incident may inform the actions of Christ, and how he might have us act at his table.]]

    I agree that Christ is always consistent, and that this means He does not call those who trust in their own righteousness, nor does He call those who believe that anything they may do can make them worthy. It is also worth while to notice which people were *not* called to that meal: those who see others as sinners and themselves as righteous (cf. Ezekiel 33:12-20 and Hosea 6:4-6 on all of this).

    Regards,
    James Clement, sinner

  5. St. Ivan says:

    hey all!

    joel and i were just talking about my blog on the “eucharist project”, which i haven’t updated in a while, but am still working on; then i saw this blog & i thought i might throw in my opinion.

    i think this kind of goes hand in hand with joel’s next blog and the comments concerning unity in the Church. & i think i lie somewhere between jim’s and joel’s stance on the eucharist issue.

    on the one hand, i don’t think any priest should undermine his bishop, especially since his bishop is his link to apostolic authority. if this priest is aware of the implications of his sermon, he should consult with his bishop before delivering it.

    but on the other hand, participation in the Eucharist is essentially tied up with our Baptism. If the Roman tradition holds protestant, anglican, and eastern (Trinitarian) baptism as being legitimate then it should also hold their celebration of the Eucharist as legitimate.

    it’s interesting that i hear catholics use protestant “misunderstanding” of the eucharist as reason for their exclusion from it. but catholics in the same breath must acknowledge the roman position that despite the same protestant misgivings concerning baptism, their baptism is valid. if this reasoning applies to one, it must apply to both, as the very purpose and definition of both are tied up in each other; as each represents our active faith in the hope of our resurrection, brought about in Christ’s death and resurrection.

    my comment on joel’s next post makes the argument that the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Orthodox Church is higher than its roman, eastern, or protestant subdivisions. and i would argue that just as there is One God, One Church, and One Baptism; there is also One Eucharist.

    And if all these are bigger than any subdivision’s definition (which they are, just as the miracle of our redemption in Christ’s death & resurrection is, which these ordinances/sacraments represent), than perhaps we should approach the Eucharist in faith that dispite our finite understanding of God’s command to eat together, we fulfill His command in unity and humility.

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