Memorial of Saint John Neumann, bishop
(I John 4:11-18; Mark 6:45-52)
Americans on the average gain a pound of body weight over the holiday season. That may not sound like much, but a real problem emerges when in many cases the added pound accumulates over the years. Yet as great a threat as obesity presents to health, there is still a greater danger in holiday feasting. Like the disciples in the gospel today, we may not understand the meaning of the abundance of food.
We share our food during Christmas as a means of anticipating the eternal feast in heaven. At the Incarnation we behold in our midst the same Christ who will have the place of honor at the Father’s table at the end of time. Of course, this image of a heavenly banquet is largely speculative. We do not know what exactly eternity is like so we think of it in terms of our most wonderful communal experience – a banquet with the most delightful of company as well as the most delicious of foods. Scripture likewise conjures the image of a banquet table for the fulfillment of God’s plan. St. Paul, however, is more discreet in describing heaven when, citing Isaiah, he writes, ‘“…eye has not seen, and ear has not heard…what God has prepared for those who love him.’”
Feasting, of course, does not continue throughout the year. Most days we exert ourselves carrying out the mandates Christ has given us. On some days we also fast as a way to show our live for God. In these ways we also guard against the threat of obesity.