Give yourself some seconds; think about your attitude to food and drink. Is it the right one? Do you remember the last meal you had? Did you appreciate it and where it came from? Did you appreciate who prepared it, even if you paid for it in the restaurant? Did you appreciate who paid for the meal if not you? Did you thank God for such great privilege to have food on your table? Do you easily forget what you have had and get preoccupied with what to consume next; the next drink to taste; the next pub to visit and the next recipe to try? In all these, we could easily lose the sense of sacredness in the food we eat.
Food or drink is important for human nourishment. They are life-giving nourishments. This is what makes them sacred. Prayer before or after meal reminds us of this sense of sacredness attached to the food and drink we consume. If we dont eat or drink we die of hunger and starvation. It all means that we must eat and drink to live. It equally means we must not live to eat and drink. Whatever nourishes our lives adds value to our life and whatever we take that does not add any value to our system can be dangerous to the same life we want to preserve.
The sin of gluttony is the sin against the dignity of food and drink as human nourishment. It goes with selfishness, greed and self-indulgence. Food and drink can become a complete different god to worship.
Last week, in the gospel, Jesus feeds the crowd and they had plenty to eat. Today, the same crowd approaches him expecting to be fed again. Jesus speaks in the person of God who sees the heart and mind of each person. He looks into their innermost intentions and tells them why they have gathered around him. Jesus makes a difference between the need of the people and their want. Last week, they needed food because they were starving. This week, they are driven by want and desire. Jesus had to correct this in the people. You are not here because you want to listen to me but because of the bread. Work and hunger for the bread that satisfies and not the one that makes us hungry and unsatisfied. Some form of food and drink inclination could leave one with unquenchable desire and hunger for the rest of their lives. This is what addiction is all about. Jesus warns against that.
He uses the opportunity to challenge those who are perpetualy at the receiving end; those who constantly demand from others, like the people did in the desert. Those who think someone else in their family, in the Church is owing them or that the rest of the society have some duty to look after them while they fold their hands and do nothing themselves. Jesus challenges those who exploit and abuse the generosity of others; those who exploit the natural habitat and environment to satisfy their own consumerism and that of the modern world.
By this teaching, Jesus asks the people to hunger for the things of the Spirit. Be hungry for love; be starving for charity; let the hunger and thirst for justice and peace overwhelm you. Seek and hunger for the kingdom of God and its righteousness, everything else will be added on to you.
Search no longer for the bread that perishes but for Him who gives you the bread of life. “The bread I give is my very flesh”, says Jesus. Take this all of you and eat of it; drink my blood, for I die to myself that you might live forever.
By the manna in the desert, the people came to encounter God himself through Moses. In the same manner, by the breaking of Bread and sharing of one sacred Chalice, the faithful come to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, who is always nourishing us for the journey into eternity. This food is sacred. Therefore, all who receive it become sacred and are restored back to the dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God.