By: Paul Murano – Nov. 2017
At the end of each November we commemorate a peace meal between two warring parties. We call it Thanksgiving. The word ‘Thanksgiving’ in Greek means Eucharist. Whereas Thanksgiving is celebrated once a year, the peace meal that is the Eucharistic is celebrated every Sunday. There are profound parallels between the two Thanksgivings: what happens in Thanksgiving on the natural level is but a reflection of what happens in the Eucharist on the supernatural level. Let’s go beneath the surface to take a closer look.
Historically there have been three basic ways of bringing adversaries together to gain peace: through a blood covenant, through a marriage, or through a shared meal.
Like the original Thanksgiving, the original Eucharist known as the Last Supper had two warring parties coming together for a peace meal: God and man. Why was this necessary? Let’s back up to prehistorical times.
As divine Revelation tells us, God who is eternal Personal Being chose to share the goodness of being with us. In doing so He made us persons, offered us a paradise in which to live, and gave us all we need for complete happiness. All we had to do was humbly accept and there would be everlasting peace. But the serpent showed up and began sowing seeds of division: ‘God has no right telling us what to do; we need to assert ourselves, create our own independent reality, and follow our desires wherever they may lead us.’ After all, the serpent insisted, we know better than God on what is good for us. As sin entered our hearts we in effect declared war on God. By our own choosing we said goodbye to God, to paradise, to peace with each other, and to immortality. By rejecting the Source of life we collectively chose death. Allowing us to wallow in our misery would be justice; however, He who is Love whom we chose to make our enemy is also mercy.
This is where thanksgiving Eucharist comes in. In fact all three ways of bringing adversaries together are employed in the rescue mission from heaven called Redemption. First, God takes on a human nature to establish a blood covenant with mankind. The blood He shed on the cross as the God-man becomes the lifeblood for all men in the Eucharist. There is also an everlasting marriage to be established. Christ became as a groom, asking again for the hand of His bride the Church for intimate union. The first time God proposed we collectively said ‘no’ in Adam; but now God proposes in person, and with a human nature. He offers as a dowry an oasis from the world and a new tree of life (the cross), the fruit of which gives us the seeds of eternal life that will blossom in the resurrection. The Church is the bride of Christ, whose everlasting marriage to the Son solidifies her union with the Father.
Lastly, there is the peace meal to celebrate this great reconciliation – a ‘Thanksgiving’ Eucharist where God and man at table are sat down. In this sacred supper shared between the Father and His children, Christ Himself becoming our food. Here is where food as life-giving union and food as celebration become one. As a loving bride, we give thanks to the Father by consummating and renewing our marriage with His Son in Eucharistic Communion: By Him entering us physically we enter Him spiritually, becoming more solidified as part of His mystical body. It is this love union from the altar bed of the church by which we become “bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh.” With every act of Eucharistic intercourse, i.e. Holy Communion, there is a renewal of the great Covenant between God and us that will last forever.
So, as we can see, the meal that we call Thanksgiving, celebrated at the end every November, is but a shadow reflection of the ultimate Thanksgiving meal that is the Eucharist. Making peace with the natives was important. Making peace with God is everything.
Dr. Paul Murano teaches philosophy at Rivier University and North Shore Community College and hosts Beneath the Surface radio show on 980 WCAP. Paul has a doctorate in marital theology, is certified in bioethics by the NCBC, and teaches adult ed. at St. Patrick’s in Nashua. He is founder of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help in Burlington, and is a singer-songwriter-musician. E-mail Paul at PJDM@aol.com