Do You Prefer Courtrooms or Banquet Halls?

by | Sep 21, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

If I asked you, I suspect most, without having any further details, would say they would rather be in a banquet setting than a court of law.

That is, unless you are a lawyer or someone looking to correct an injustice. Courtrooms often involve anxiety about the outcome. They are more about proving something. On the other hand, people associate banquet halls with celebration of good times and enjoying being in one another’s company.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk I will explore whether there is an unconscious tendency to think of heaven as something awarded to us if we have enough evidence to convince the judge. Or, do we have a deep-down feeling that heaven will be the best family gathering we could imagine? A taste of what is yet to come?

Trigger questions

Richard Rohr asks two relevant questions.

  • Do you know how many times in the four Gospels eternal life is described as a banquet, a feast, a party, a wedding, the marriage feast of the Lamb? There are fifteen different, direct allusions to eternal life being a great, big party. 
  • Do you know how many parables there are about eternal life being a courtroom or a judgment scene? One. Matthew 25

He quickly added…

  • We need Matthew 25 because it makes it very clear that the ultimate issue is about how we care for the poor and marginalized.
  • But we forget this good news of Jesus, sending a message out to the highways and the byways, inviting everybody who’s willing to come to the banquet. It’s that simple!  


How we approach Sunday

He also said,

“For many of us, the Body of Christ is not a party. Instead, we often believe that heaven is a giant courtroom scene.”

That really got me thinking!

Do we focus more on doing what we have to do to get into heaven… orlook to enjoying a family celebration right now… a celebration which, in the fulness of time, will literally be beyond our most fervent imagination?

That in turn, raised a crucial but potentially revealing questions regarding how we approach Sunday. Do we think we are going to a celebration with friends or to a bank to make deposits or make withdrawals?  Do we think of Eucharist as going to a celebration with those closest to us? If not, why not?

In recent years I have personally come to appreciate that my understanding of “communion” was too small. It has dawned me what a privilege it was for me as a member of the body of Christ, to give the body of Christ to everyone gathering as the body of Christ.

In passing, missionaries often note their amazement at realizing they are not bringing Christ to people but helping people recognize Christ in themselves and others.

“Deep” Eucharistic renewal

The members of the body of Christ we call Bishops are asking us to engage in a three-year process to deepen our understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Is not the fulness of the mystery of God’s presence in our midst, not only under the appearance of bread and wine but also in one another, where 2 or 3 are gathered…”

In effect, I believe they are inviting us to a fuller understanding of Jesus when he said “the kingdom of God is already here in your midst! Paul learned this the hard way on the road to Damascus. “why are you persecuting me?

The more I understand this, the more I realize each ”Eucharist” is but the first phase of the eternal banquet Jesus speaks about so often when finally all divisions disappear in Christ!

What questions do these questions raise for you?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk