Chapter 4: Our Daily Bread: Food as Sign and Sacrament
WOW! I do not know about you – but this chapter gave me a lot to chew on!
Jesus often used ordinary things to explain or symbolize the extraordinary! A mustard seed, a lost sheep, a persistent widow… all of these things are so ordinary, but when looked at through a lens of faith they can lead us to deeper and more powerful truths than we could have imagined on our own.
As I was reading the first half of the chapter focused on food, I had to stop and think about how God chose for humans to be nourished – through food. I’ve had plants that get water and sunshine to survive, our dogs ate the same food every day (cats too), yet as humans we have a vast banquet to choose from at every meal and most of us eat 2-3 times a day. God created foods to nourish us that vary in taste, texture, and nutrients! All this alone was enough for me to sit back and be in awe of what God’s plan was for us! We have choices every day as to how we nourish our bodies. Then add in the community aspect. When we eat so many times a day it is natural to join with others around a table or coffee pot and share our lives – nourished not only physically, but also in friendship and love! Then add in the layer of community of those who have come before us – who have created wonderful meals, who have tilled and cared for the land, who have found ways to create meals easier – and those who we may never know but that we will leave a legacy for them. This chapter spoke to me in so many ways about how this idea of food and gathering together for meals is so important – in Scripture we often hear of Jesus eating with people – maybe God truly did intend that meals should be shared, enjoyed and that food is just one of the ways a person is nourished at a meal.
Jesus used ordinary things to symbolize the extraordinary… gathering to eat meals together, nourishing our bodies, growing in community are ordinary things. Jesus tells people in John 6 that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood – many people leave him thinking he is crazy. His disciples stay because they have come to know him and to trust what he says, even when it is difficult. Jesus didn’t back down from his teaching because people walked away, which tells me that what we believe happens in the Eucharist is true! We consume the body and blood of Jesus! We eat for nourishment – He gives himself to us to nourish us on our journey. Every time I listen to the Eucharistic prayer I pray that Jesus will come into my heart and assist me to live as I am called to live. I know that if I did not eat for a day or a week I would not have the energy or the clarity of mind to do what needs to be done; so too with the Eucharist, without Jesus I can do nothing!
This week: be more attentive as you’re eating – be aware of the time, the energy that you or others put into preparing the meal. Add to your prayers a blessing of the hands of all those who helped to prepare your meal. I gave a wonderful book to my three Godchildren this year – The Thank You Dish. I may get this slightly wrong because I don’t have the book in front of me – but they lift up in thanks all those who helped to prepare the meal – even an aunt who made a scarf for the uncle so he would be warm while he went out fishing for the fish they were eating. What a thought! Do you think of all those who contributed to your meal?
Next weekend when you come to Mass – or consider coming to a daily Mass this week – and as you walk up to receive Jesus talk to Him – thank Him for what he has done for you and ask Him to nourish you as you journey through your week!