I don’t have a problem with religious-themed treats, as a general rule.
I am 100% okay with butter lambs that represent Jesus. They look delicious. I love leg of lamb and desserts shaped like lamb to represent Jesus; I’d even like to try one of those traditional lamb cakes filled with grenadine so they appear to bleed when you cut them. I have no objection to a cross made of chocolate. I like chocolate and I like crosses. There’s no problem there.
However, an alert reader recently introduced me to the concept of chocolate crucifixes, and there I draw the line.
Just take a look at that embedded link. I posted the google image search because I don’t want to mock any individual craftsmen, only the idea of a chocolate crucifix. I can see eating one of those lovely chocolate crosses with nobody on it, but a crucifix? With a nearly-naked body in torment on it? Bonus squick points for the chocolatier who molded their corpus out of flesh-colored white chocolate so it would really stand out. I wonder if it’s filled with raspberry jam, too.
How do you eat one of those things? Where do you start? My alert reader said you should eat it feet-first, to be reverent. But that doesn’t seem physically possible to do with a chocolate lollipop, and that’s what most of these are. Not to mention it’s not biblical– the good and bad thieves got their legs broken, and Jesus didn’t. Besides, it seems sadistic. Jesus has been through enough. If I were going to eat one of those things I’d humanely bite the head off first, the way I did with each individual Teddy Graham snack when I was in preschool. And then I’d break my teeth on the embedded stick because, remember, most of these things are lollipops. Your only choice seems to be to lick them until He fades into an abstract mass, and hope there isn’t raspberry jam filling.
I expressed my horror on Facebook, as one does. And one of my Catholic friends pointed out why I was being silly.
“You already do eat Jesus, you know.”
She’s right. I do.
Jesus is merciful; He makes Himself palatable for me by not appearing like a man at the time, but I do eat Jesus. I usually say “receive,” not “eat,” because it sounds so much nicer, but it’s still eating. I eat Jesus. I eat His head and feet and filling, His Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity. I eat the Word of God. I eat the Infant of Bethlehem and the Carpenter of Nazareth. I eat the Passion and the Resurrection. Christ cannot be divided. Everyone present at Liturgy with me eats all of Jesus. We all eat the same Jesus, all of Him. We eat Jesus.
And as we eat Jesus, He consumes us, and we are one with Him. Not metaphorically, not just in a sublime, sanitary, spiritual way, but really one. The Body of Christ is one with the body of Mary Pezzulo. All of Christ and all of me. I am one with the Passion and Resurrection; with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Jesus and I consume one another, and we are one.
I eat Jesus.
Have you ever run across one of those passages in the writings of a very mystical saint that just seem way too uncomfortably like sex– or that come out and say that union with Christ is like sex? Well, that’s an illustration of reality. In reality, our relationship with Christ in the Holy Eucharist is the deepest intimacy between two people that you can imagine– deeper than sex, deeper than pregnancy, deeper than anything. And it’s ours, whenever we remember to go to Mass or Liturgy and receive Him.
I still don’t think I’d like a crucifix lollipop. Because it’s an irreverent way to treat a representation of Christ, and because it’s not appetizing anyway.
But not because it’s eating Jesus.
I do that all the time.
(image via Pixabay)