Sunday, August 05, 2012

Food that Endures (Sunday homily)

I’d like to hone in on one statement in the Lord’s words we just heard:
“Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.”

“Do not work for food that perishes…”

If we used that to measure what we value, what would we find?

A lot of us are getting excited about the Reds--including me.
But it’s “food that perishes.”

Yet how many folks will skip Mass--
and skip receiving the Bread of Life--
for an autograph, or a good parking spot?

Computers and gadgets are wonderful tools.
I use them every day.
They can also be a cozy world we retreat into--
where we spend hours with a video game,
Or looking at pretty pictures, or reading all the latest news,
while the people in our own houses become strangers.

Again, food that perishes--
whereas the love that is fostered around the dinner table
is food that endures.

This is a good time to explain one of our Catholic practices:
the practice of doing penances, acts of self-denial, throughout the year.

Nowadays, most Catholics only do that during Lent.
But did you realize that every Friday is a day of penance?
Not just during Lent, but every Friday through the year?

Now, a lot of folks will say, wait--
didn’t the bishops abolish that?

No, they didn’t. What they did was to say,
you can either abstain from meat--
or you can do another penance.
But the obligation to do some penance on Fridays is still in place.

I’d bet real money most Catholics don’t know that.
They just think Fridays stopped being a day of penance.

This is why a number of Catholics
are returning to no-meat-on-Fridays;
because while there are other ways to do it,
it’s still a good form of penance.

But let’s talk about that: we do we do penance?
Many reasons.

First, while we can never “pay” for our sins,
we can make some offering--even a very small one.
Second, doing penance unites us with others.
When we know someone else is suffering,
choosing to fast is a way to stand with them.

And, coming back to our Gospel:
Acts of self-denial can be powerful ways
we overcome our lust for the food that perishes,
and learn to hunger for the food that endures.

Sometimes it’s the only tool that helps us really change.

We all like the good life: good food, good times.
And that’s not bad, so long as keep it in balance.
It’s the difference between enjoying a drink--and living for one.
What makes the good things of life, good,
is that they connect us to the goodness of God.
This is what Saint Augustine said. 

If the good and beautiful things of life could speak, 
they would say, “We are not God--but he made us.”

Pray for me: you can see I like food!
Let’s pray for each other, to seek the Food that endures.

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