Okay, I’ll admit it; I eat too much. Some of us grew up so close to the farm that we feel it is our duty to consume at least an acre’s worth a day. My weight is too high, my blood sugar is too high, and my cholesterol is too high (except for that “good” kind, which is of course too low). The danger in living too close to cows is that you begin to eat like them.
The national obesity epidemic tells me that we are not alone. Overeating is a national pastime. We went from baseball, hot dogs and apple pie to just straight hot dogs and apple pie. Baseball takes too much effort. Being the most prosperous country in the world has had an unexpected side-effect. We are also the most over fed country in the world. And yet we are always hungry.
Jesus was talking to me in Sunday’s gospel. He called me out when he said, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life. I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger.” Jesus knows that we are always hungry. He’s trying to get us to look past our earthly plate (or fast food bag) to the food that really satisfies.
You see, when we chow down on two burgers and fries we are answering a human urge. It’s driven by where our bodies came from. We evolved from creatures whose work in life was to eat and make babies before something else ate them. That’s what creatures of the earth do. But, as beings who are also eternal and children of God, our real work in this life is to prepare for the next one; the one that lasts. Our work is not to pursue human urges, but to “believe in the one He sent.” (Jn 6:29), and to do the work that Jesus calls us to. In other words, to love one another.
Is living the life of Christ really a substitute for pizza and beer? Ask someone who is recovering from an addiction. For a person in any one of the several “12-step” recovery programs a mandatory part of filling the void that had been filled by beer/food/drugs/sex is reaching out and helping others. For people addicted to the things of this earth, a significant part of the solution is simple: live as Jesus lived.