“That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” Exodus 12:8
Have you ever been so hungry that you just couldn’t stand it? I remember a backpacking trip I took in my Boy Scout days. We hiked 30 miles over the course of a weekend on Manitou Island. My little 12 year old body wanted to die and if I had to eat one more handful of trail mix instead of an actual lunch, I probably would have swam home. I remember when we got back to the mainland, my friends and I ate about 10 hamburgers each at McDonalds. It became a challenge, as most things do at that age.
Why am I focusing so much on food in this post? Well, this week I started the Keto diet. I have been trying to get in shape, because I want to be healthy for my future family once I get married in October. Those who know me well will tell you that I love food. I love cooking, I love eating, I love the social aspect of conversation around a table, I love it all. So naturally, when I stop eating as much, I start thinking about it more.
It’s in the context of food that I reflect on the readings of the day. I don’t think it is a mistake that the Church puts the readings of the Jewish Passover and of the Last Supper on the same day. Jesus is the Paschal lamb. Just as the blood of a male lamb was sacrificed and smeared on the doorposts to prevent death in Egypt, so too, Jesus’ blood was smeared on the cross to prevent the death of us all. Even the hyssop branch that the Israelites used to put the blood on the doorpost is the same type of branch that was used to give Jesus wine before he breathed his last. The similarities are too great for it to be coincidence.
This gives a whole new light to the readings of the Passover that we will hear tonight at Holy Thursday Mass. Scott Hahn points out in his CD, ‘The Fourth Cup’, it is not enough that we know that Jesus is our Paschal lamb. Just as it would not have been enough for the Israelites to slaughter the lamb and prepare it. They had to eat the lamb, and so do we in the Eucharist.
How often do we make food into a god in our lives? I know I do this way too much. It’s a vice I am really trying to work on. We eat those things that are most delicious, most fattening, most satisfying, and we never want to stop. We would do anything for a good steak, or deep fried twinkie, or a klondike bar. Food has become a god and yet the food that actually is God takes a secondary role in our lives.
Sure, the wafers at Mass are not as delicious as a beef wellington, but the Eucharist truly gives us all the things we look for when we cling to food, nourishment, energy, life, comfort, communion. As much as I have realized in the past few months that I need to start denying my passion for food, I challenge myself and you to ignite our passions for the true food that will give us eternal life. May God Bless you during this Holy Thursday!
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