Today the news is dominated in the UK by the new restrictions the government has set out which will effect how we shop and how we celebrate Christmas. Some supermarket chains have catalogues filled with mouth watering pictures of the food you can buy for your Christmas meal. You no longer have to worry about making your own Christmas pudding, mince pies, or Christmas Cake. They are all there within the glossy pages, along with beautiful pictures of roast duck, roast turkey, roast lamb and roast beef.
The Christmas meal is very much a focal point of our celebration. It expresses joy, unity and love. In the first reading today from Isaiah we hear how on the mountain “the Lord of hosts will prepare for all people a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines.of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.” This is an image of eternal life. Death has been destroyed and there is exultation and joy.
The Gospel today tells of Jesus taking the seven loaves and the fish, giving thanks, breaking them and giving them to the crowds. “They all ate as much as they wanted and they collected what was left of the scrapes, seven baskets full.” Food was the means by which God communicates his love and his very self. Jesus becomes our nourishment. So when we tuck in to our turkey, or nut roast, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus who is our food, our nourishment, the one who is our life. It is significant that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which in Hebrew is bet lekhem, meaning “house of bread”.
God, our salvation, let your Holy Spirit prepare our hearts, so that at the coming of Christ your Son we may be found worthy to share in the banquet of eternal life, and to receive from his hands the food of heaven. We make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.