When was the last time you thought about what and how you eat? A few years ago I sat in on a nutrition class. To start the class, the instructor gave each of us a peanut, telling us not to eat it, just to hold it and feel it; slowly she began to instruct us to peal the shell, then eat, making the most of every chew, making note as to how the flavor changed as the salty exterior mixed with the fatty nut. This took almost 5 minutes! But there was a method to her madness, as we say. Her point was that much of the nutrition problems happen because we are not mindful of what we eat. We throw anything that looks good in our mouths, often while multitasking and without thought or concern for what we are exactly eating.
This week’s passage is as much about mindfulness as it is the sacraments. The “Jews” identified in this passage were raising issues about Jesus’ call for people to eat his flesh; was he talking about cannibalism? Obviously not! Jesus is playing them for fools in that they miss the point of what he is saying. To eat his flesh and drink his blood is an acknowledgment of a faithful person’s desire to become one with Christ. When we eat of Christ, or accept him into our hearts, we are grafted into Christ and are one with Him.
But more than that, this is an example of how Christ is calling us to be mindful of what we “eat” as it comes to faith, since many of the doctrines and practices of the time actually had very little to do with faithfulness to God and had much more to do with power structures and traditions.
Jesus’ call to be faithful is to be mindful of one’s spirituality, understanding that when we eat, it is not to suck down the most food or even to get full, but when we seek faithfulness we must eat the right food with a mindfulness in our focus.
I have been thinking a lot about food lately! Because of the ulcer, and the need to change my diet, I have really had to think about what I was eating and why. Needing to mostly cut out fats and carbs has been easy since that called for the opposite diet to the one I was on so anything I would naturally go to I needed to stay away from. But something else came up as I thought about the things I have been eating and why. I began to think about how quickly people clamor to gorge on new spiritualties and feel good faith to fill voids, but often fall away in time because there is nothing more then surface feelings. In the opposite way I think of how often those who tout righteousness and judgment often are miserable or self-loathing.
Again, it hits on a certain level of humility to maintain faithfulness in Christ. Even in partaking in the act of community is to say I need something more than myself, so yes, I will welcome Christ into my heart because He is in me, and I am in Him. But there is more, and here is the challenge for you: when was the last time you took communion and really thought about that? When was the last time when you ate the bread and drank the cup did you really think about what you were doing, and really what does that mean for your faith?
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen