Friday, April 8, 2011
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.John 6:52-59
Growing up among five children there was constant fights, often over food and who got the last tasty morsel of something - usually dessert. We fought about lots of things and our parents usually kept a tight lid on us and our battles. Once, when my parents had a group of kids on retreat for confirmation, there was a very memorable confrontation. My younger sister wanted the last ice cream sandwich and so did I. I carefully cut it in half and asked her which half she wanted. After deliberation, she made her choice, which I proceeded to pulverize with my fist.
Theologians as well as children fight over food, whether symbolic or actual. Jesus was teaching in the temple and trying to help folks understand what he had been called to do. Most of the gathered remembered his words and his touch in a positive fashion, although some found these fighting words. Bread and food are at the base of our human existence. Every culture has sacred and traditional foods. Best not make fun or belittle what is important to a group of people, whether a large cultural unit or a small family. We all fight over food, and yet we rarely own our complicated relationship to food and how powerful and elemental it is. We dress it up as gourmet or healthy, on or off a diet, but we want to own and control it. And it scares us when we realize that God is saying to us that our food for life is truly taking God in.
Today, I want to give thanks for all those who have fed me physically and spiritually throughout my life. God asks us to invite the Creator within us, and that we will be filled to overflowing. May this day be dedicated to honoring the food and gifts of our traditions and family, while opening our hearts and souls to the hungry in our midst.