Lectionary readings for today:
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. – John 4:31-34
I love food. I love to eat it. I enjoy simmering, searing, sautéing, roasting, grilling, or baking it. It brings me joy to have people over to share a meal at home. I love unique culinary creations at local flare restaurants. I love the multi-sensory experience of hearing the crunch, seeing the color scheme, smelling the savory aroma, and of course tasting the party of flavors in my mouth! I also love grocery shopping and selecting the ripe avocado or fresh chicken for our menu.
This past week, I was at Aldi one evening grocery shopping, and as I was loading the bags into my car trunk, a couple came up to me asking for money. I was startled by how they came up behind me unexpectedly, so it took me a few moments to connect with the situation as they told me they needed money to pay for the weekly hotel they were staying at or they were going to be kicked out in an hour. They had a child with them, which was even more heart wrenching. I had no way of knowing whether their story was true or whether they were scamming me as so many others have in similar parking lots. As I drove home later, I wrestled through the many layers of complexity I had just encountered. Where did the truth really lie? How could I have best helped them? What did they really need?
In John’s Gospel reading today, rather than eating a meal, Jesus reflects on the food of being and doing and completing God’s mission. Deep satisfaction and pleasure were derived from serving delectable good to hungry souls. Jesus’ ministry was pecan crusted trout and Crème Brule for the Samaritan woman’s soul and the couple at Aldi and for you and for me.
In this season of Lent in which many fast from meat or chocolate or other yummy food, let us consider adding spiritual food to our lives in this season. Now, I don’t mean simply reading the Bread of Life, Word of God, Holy Bible to feed our souls :-), I mean in how we live and move and have our being. Do you need to sip a warm “cup of cheer” today to brighten you with hope and glow a smile to another who also thirsts for joy? What kind of soul soup would soothe and sustain and nurture you this week? When you meet the stranger in the parking lot or see a stressed or exasperated coworker or listen to a struggling family member on the phone, what will you feed them? Sweet peace, tender mercy, rich love… Each of us can reap and each of us can sow such life-giving fare.
Oh Great Master Chef, thank you for the multisensory experiences of dining on your creation in feeling the wind blow, hearing the birds sing, smelling the rain, or seeing the sunset. We are hungry. We are thirsty. Thank you for the wonderful food for our souls through your life, love, goodness, truth, peace, hope, gentleness, compassion, wisdom, and grace. Teach us how to eat and how to feed those around us. Bless all that sits on and around the table… Amen.