We live in an age that invented junk food: food that is not real food because it supplies no nourishment and can be harmful to eat. It’s not surprising then, that we also consume volumes of reporting that is mostly opinion, and inform ourselves from sources we can’t even identify. Our culture’s popular stories are thin, recycled, and not transformative. A lot of what we take in – to our bodies, our minds, our hearts – is just junk.
Some people awaken to that reality and try to make changes. They train themselves to walk past the processed food aisle in the supermarket. They turn off the TV, forsake pre-packaged opinions, seek out stories which lead beyond romance or cynicism. They look for people engaged in vital living, who go beyond the existence loop that many of us have crawled into: work, eat, entertain, sleep. Some people are looking for true food.
Jesus offers true food to those who believe. Eucharist is how we express that, but the sacrament takes us beyond the sacred elements to the flesh-and-blood avenues of our lives. Jesus gave us the Eucharist to open our eyes to the words he spoke, the stories he told, the transformative action of Spirit that helps us break out of the existence loop and into lives that matter. When we’ve had enough junk, the true food is on the table.
What nourishes your body and your spirit?
How much cultural junk do you consume, in proportion to the true food of faith?
Consider the ratio of ‘junk food’ in your life to the true food that Jesus offers. Plan a new diet, lessening the amount of time you surrender to useless, lifeless activity. increase your intake of good food, inspiring stories, real relationships.
The Scripture (John 6: 47-51) Feeding the Five Thousand
‘I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But this is the Bread that truly comes down from heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread – living Bread! – who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live – and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self’.
When I was 15, my mother would go crazy if she found me staring for long stretches into an open refrigerator. I knew I was really hungry, but I wasn’t sure for what. I’m sure that the disquieting changes going on in my adolescent self prompted a hunger I couldn’t quite satisfy.
Nutritionists often advise dieters to stop a moment before even opening the fridge door to ask themselves an important question: Am I really hungry for food? It may well be that this feeling that drives me to the pantry has more to do with nervousness about a pending deadline, some dark thought about a recent social faux pas, or a bit of loneliness than it does with my need for physical sustenance.
Our hungers, whether physical emotional, social, or spiritual can all tend to blend together. Thus, the Israelites went hungry before manna arrived to acquaint them with their yearning for God, and the Jews of Jesus’ time confused hi eucharistic invitation to eat his flesh with cannibalism. The nutritionists are right: We ought to become clear about the true nature of our hungers.
In this land of plenty, maybe we should put down the ham sandwich and seek satisfaction in the word of God. In fact, maybe I ought to situate myself before an open Bible like I used to stand in front of Mum’s well-stocked fridge.
We go from here a hopeful people, for God goes with us.
In times of trouble, God will support us; in times of weakness, God will be our strength; in times of doubt, God will give us direction; in times of loneliness, God will touch us with the friendship of others; in times when we lack confidence, God will show us our worth; in times of sadness, God will embrace us with love.
Nothing can dash our hopes!
In the power and the love of God.
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