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The Heavenly Banquet
by Maria Franco
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“This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honor. For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, for ever.” Exodus 12:14

Multitasking has become a way of life. Gone are days when we could attend to one task at a time. The world is moving at break neck speed and it has become mandatory to tackle various tasks at the same time.
Of course, we really cannot complain that today we are more burdened and our minds stretched on all sides because if we look back over two thousand years ago, Christ too tirelessly preached to the people, healed them, walked miles, climbed mountains, spent nights praying to the Father in solitude. He hardly had any time to rest. He was ready to attend to all who came to Him.

Today I am reminded about a passage in the bible where a man invited his guests to a banquet but none of them turned up so in anger he instructed his servants to go out in the streets and welcome the lame, deaf, dumb and crippled.
A similar incident happened to me over ten years ago. That year, since my birthday happened to be during the weekend, I decided to host a party and invited all my friends over to be at my place before midnight so that I could bring in my birthday exactly when the clock struck twelve. That day on my return home from work, I started preparing for the party in full swing. Living in a place with no domestic help and having to do all by myself, I proceeded with my hands flying in ten different directions, multitasking to finish before time.
Everything was set and ready on the dot and I waited eagerly for my friends to turn up. However to my utter disappointment, one after the other my friends called up to say that each was busy with some last minute agenda, emergency work, one was just tired after returning home. The clock struck midnight and there I was gazing at the cake, the lit candles and all that I had prepared. It was too late in the day for me to follow what the man in the gospel passage had done. I could not call up some new guests at that hour of the night. Two days later, my friends called up to apologize and said how they had all felt so bad at what had happened, they then told me that they had all decided they would make up by coming over the next weekend. And, for me it was ENCORE……
Of course, I could not be angry with them for long. I had to forgive though I was tempted to tell the Lord to forgive them though they knew exactly what they were doing.

On the contrary, another cherished remembrance that I carry in my heart was the noble and loving gesture of a childhood neighbor. This woman being a spinster was very fond of me and she made it a point every year to stitch a birthday dress for me which she would present to me as a reward for securing the first rank in school. Today she is in the heavenly realms and I ask the Lord to bless her a thousand times over in the eternal paradise for every one of those dresses that she stitched with her loving hands.

Sometimes, things turn the other way round and we probably are not able to be on time, just when we need to complete something important. In fact, this happened to me as well. Being a person who always makes it a point to wish people exactly at midnight when the birthday begins, it so happened three months ago, as I awaited eagerly to wish a close friend, the same evening another friend dropped in with her daughter and then remained back to stay over. I was completely occupied with looking after them and unable to wish at the dot of twelve. It was only the next morning that I could send a greeting and somehow this saddened me as I had missed the chance to wish the night before.

Preparation time is always a vital period. As I prepare to travel home in the next three months, this time, I look forward to the refreshing rains, something I have not witnessed since ages in my home country. Years ago, I used to always enjoy the rains and the engaging feelings that it evoked, the gentle breeze, the trickling waters, the scenic panorama literally shining after being washed over, the cooling nights, a bit of sentimentalism, a dash of joy, a lively hope and hoards of blessings literally from Heaven. Sometimes, God sends angels to be our hands and feet and reach those until we can be with them again.

There is a famous anecdote on how a child returned home drenched in the rain after having forgotten to carry her umbrella. The moment she walked into her home, her father scolded her for the same, the elder sister joined in to reprimand her, her brother was gleeful at the fact that she was at the receiving end of their anger. However, the Mother quietly walked into the room and proceeded to dry her hair with a towel and remarked; “Silly rain! Could not wait until my child got home.”

This is how God loves us. He takes us back lovingly in His arms even after we have erred. This is the season to draw closer to His grace and mercy. Even if we do not know Him so well, He knows who we are what we mean to Him.
Sometimes in life, it is so much more easier to pour our hearts out and let others know how we feel, instead of storing the feelings within us and leaving others clueless. To let our thoughts rain down for a positive outcome. In this season of preparation before Easter, let us examine our hearts and reveal our thoughts, to clear all that hinders, multitasking ourselves to prayer, and various spiritual activities so that we can look forward to a glorious Easter dawn.

When the Lord celebrated the Passover with His disciples, He told them that He had longed to eat this meal with them. All said and done, the day we are invited to the banquet of our Lord, I am sure, we too will fulfill His longing of being with us, dressed in the attire of His spirit that He has lovingly crafted for us with His hands of salvation, to look forward to His warm welcome, to drink the new wine and to participate full-heartedly in the banquet of our Lord. He will feed the multitudes with the bread of His body and the wine of his blood. That day will never turn into a long and dark night because the Lord Himself will stay with us and He will be the everlasting light, the Lamb shining gloriously in the New Heavenly Jerusalem.

Maria Franco

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