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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The healthy eating or fast food options of life

Here is my reflection from today's lunchtime Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

I’d like you to imagine going on from here to a choice of two different meals. The first is a hamburger from a fast food outlet and the second some sandwiches made from freshly baked bread. Given the choice, which would you choose?

What we choose to eat has consequences for us. Bread, for example, forms a major part of the 'Balance of Good Health' healthy eating model for the UK. Bread, other cereals and potatoes should make-up approximately 33% of our diet and that’s because flour and bread provide us with more energy value, more protein, more iron, more nicotinic acid and more vitamin B1 than any other basic food.

On the other hand, the hamburger probably contains about 25% fat by weight, as the higher the fat content the juicier the burger. A standard frozen hamburger typically contains about 7.3g of fat and about 118 calories. When we combine foods with high fat and sugar content with very little exercise then, as a nation, we start to put on weight and that is why it is estimated that, in the UK, one in five men and a quarter of women are overweight, and that as many as 30,000 people die prematurely every year from obesity-related conditions. What we choose to eat has consequences for us.

Jesus says essentially the same thing in our Gospel reading today (John 6. 35 - 40). He says that if we want to live and live well, in fact, if we want to live forever then we need to eat the ‘Bread of Life’. In other words, we need to choose the healthy eating option in our lives rather than the fast food option.

What is the healthy eating option in life? What is the ‘Bread of Life’? It is Jesus himself. “I am the bread of life,” he says, “he who comes to me will never be hungry.” “Whoever eats this bread,” Jesus says, “will live for ever.” This is where Jesus’ picture language can seem to get confusing because Jesus is a person and how can you eat a person? But this is why when Jesus uses picture language we must understand what he means by those pictures and not take what he says literally. Some of the people who opposed the Early Church did take sayings like this literally and accused Christians of being cannibals! But that is not what Jesus means at all.

How do we feed on Jesus? Here are three ways:

  • First, in verse 47 Jesus tells us to believe in him. Believing means to put all our trust in Jesus and in what he has done and said. Just like bread is a staple food by believing in Jesus we make him the staple part of our lives.
  • Second, when Jesus was tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread he said we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God’s mouth and here in verse 45 Jesus talks about being taught by God. God’s words are recorded in the Bible as are all that Jesus said and did. We feed on him by reading all we can about Jesus and then by putting it into practice in our lives.
  • Third, in verse 56 Jesus talks about communion when he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him.” The Eucharist reminds us of all that Jesus has done for us in dying and rising again and as we eat the bread and drink the wine we are taking Jesus and all that his death and resurrection mean into ourselves.

When we feed on Jesus in these ways we are making the healthy choice for life, the choice that leads to life forever. In our lives when faced with the choice between the healthy eating option and the fast food option we don’t always choose what is best for us and we then suffer the consequences later in life.

What choice will you make for your life today? Will you choose to feed on Jesus, the ‘Bread of Life’ or will you reject Jesus and choose the ‘Fast Foods of Life? The choice is ours but the Bible clearly sets out for us what is the best choice for our lives.


Richard Proulx and the Cathedral Singers - I Am The Bread Of Life.

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