Devouring Christ

lamb and cakeWhen preparing a meal I find it to be more than just about sustenance; it is a creative and prayerful time.

I am blessed to be living a life where good food can be bought—organic eggs and milk, fresh produce in abundance, and Amish chickens at the market (if I arrive early enough!). This hasn’t always been true in my life or yet so for many friends.

Taking the time to fix a simple meal and set the table for one, or making a kettle of soup to share, offers opportunities to pray. For the grace of food, and enough to share, with gratitude I give thanks to God.

With eagerness I approach making meals, especially this time of year when produce is abundant and often picked fresh from the garden. Consuming flavorful and healthy food daily is a delight. It doesn’t need to be a gourmet feast.

The other morning I read a piece in Magnificat by Fr. Robert Barron about consuming the Eucharist.

Given every opportunity therefore to soften his words, or to give them a metaphorical interpretation, Jesus in fact intensifies his language: Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. The Greek term translated by “eat” here is trogein, rather than phagein. The latter is the word customarily used to designate the way human beings eat; whereas the former is the word employed to signal the way animals eat, something along the lines of “gnaw” or “munch.” In short, he scandalously underscored the very realism to which his audience was objecting.”(Magnificat, August 2015, Vol. 17, No. 6, Page 244.)

Not being familiar with that discourse I went searching the Internet and found there to be a considerable amount of discussion about the terminology. None of which particularly moved me spiritually.

What struck me was the aggressive nature of consuming the Body and Blood of Christ.

With awe and some level of primal fear we’ve all watched National Geographic shows of wild beast chasing down, killing and consuming their prey. The beasts have a singular intensity of focus on the food, a thorough intent at devouring all that is there to be had. They tear into bone and sinew, leaving nothing behind to the point of even licking the ground for the last bits of flesh and blood.

I shudder at the imagery.

Reading the words of Fr. Barron, I am disturbed by the intensity by which our Lord indicated that we are to consume him Eucharistically. With intent and full knowledge that this is indeed his body and blood, we are to have a singular focus of devouring him, gnawing into every morsel of spiritual tissue. To seek every bit of nourishment being offered to keep our souls from starvation.

I shudder at the demands of such conviction.

May the good Lord save and guide those of us who prefer tea-cakes to the whole of a slaughtered Lamb.

Image public domain, courtesy Wikimedia commons.

 

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