Is 25:6-10; Ps 23:1-6; Mt 15:29-37
It’s not a pleasant thought, but we do sit down to eat in the sight of our foes. We cannot not feast in their sight. This painful image from Psalm 23 seems to be out of place in the Good Shepherd Psalm. There is such comfort from meditating on the LORD, the Almighty One, as a shepherd. Unlike other shepherds the LORD can and does care for all our needs and even our wants. We have verdant pastures in which to rest securely and comfortably. The restful waters quench our every thirst and refresh us in the depths of our being. We have the kind of guidance we need to make it through even the times of terror and seasons of sufferings. The LORD stands close with his rod and staff; he is ready to defend us. His support is all the courage we need. So even in a time of struggle, and even when we are severely challenged, the LORD soothes us with healing oil. The wine of blessing gladdens our hearts. Wherever we travel people speak kindly and mention our virtue, and most of all we have a home with the LORD for years to come. With all this warmth and comfort the words “in the sight of my foes” seem out of place. Yet, this is when we most need and are truly open to the Good Shepherd. When we feast in the sight of our friends, there is no danger and all is well. It’s when we feast in the midst of our enemies that we most need the LORD. For the LORD is the worst enemy of our true enemies, vice in all its manifestations: greed, lust, envy, anger, avarice, sloth, and gluttony. With his rod and staff we will be more than safe, we will defeat our enemies. They will gather around to disrupt and destroy. We will be at peace, and this will dispel any power of evil. Just as Isaiah prophesied the hand of the LORD will rest on the mountain where we feast in the sight of our foes. This is where the Lord Jesus summons his disciples in every age and feeds them with the miracle of the loaves. In this Eucharist we are nourished in the sight of our foes. Indeed, our life-giving Bread and saving Cup is a victory feast!
Not only does the LORD spread a table for us in the sight of our enemies, he provides a feast for all people on his holy mountain. All people, even our so-called enemies, are provided with rich food and choice wines, rich food and pure, choice wines. Indeed, the Lord God not only defends us against our enemies; the Lord God destroys all our real enemies, sin, vice, evil and the evil one. This ultimate victory of God and holiness, virtue, good will be seen when he destroys death forever. The LORD does this in Christ who destroyed death by dying. No longer does the fear of death keep us from the joy of living and abundant life in Christ who came that we might have life and have it abundantly. The LORD will wipe the tears from all faces and the reproach, the ridicule; the rejection of his own people will be over, completely over. No longer will the Gentiles delight in harming Israel, and no longer will Israel delight in harming the Gentiles. All tears of sorrow because of war will cease. Only tears of joy and gladness will flow freely! On this day of transforming love all will cry with one voice, “behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” Then and only then will the Hand of the Lord rest upon his holy mountains, wherever dwell his holy ones.
Is our last enemy hunger? Will we know the fullness of peace when there is no more hunger? Will we feed our enemies? Many experts have made it clear that hunger for our daily bread can be satisfied. We do have the resources to provide food for every one on the face of the earth. However, we do not have the spiritual resources to motivate us into performing such “a miracle.” Of course, it would not be a miracle, as such, because it is not beyond our power to satisfy the earthly hunger of our many brothers and sisters throughout our world. However, this is not the only hunger that plagues the human race. We also hunger and thirst for the living God. We were made in his image and likeness. We were made with a deep longing to be filled with the very fullness of God. This deepest hunger could cause our collapse. It will not triumph over us because the Lord Jesus said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.” He provided many loaves and fish to feed the earthly hunger of those who had listened to him for three days. In this miracle the Lord Jesus, also set a table in the sight of their foes and went up the mountain to touch and heal their brokenness. In Christ Jesus the crowds had every tear wiped away and were fed with the endless loaves. Even now we can come to the mountain of the Lord to be touched and healed and to be fed with the Bread of Life. The miracle of the Eucharist is set before us in the sight of our foes each day. So that all may taste and see that the Lord is good. Indeed, he alone satisfies the deepest hunger and thirst of the human soul in this bread of life and cup of eternal salvation. Even our so-called enemies will be so refreshed that they will no longer be satisfied by revenge or victory. In the mean time, our true enemies in the spiritual battle will not even have a chance to harm us when we are fed at the table of the LORD.