Certainly NOT Gluten-Free

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Christ is risen!

It seems there isn’t a day goes by when a new “warning” about the “dangers” of something we’ve been eating for centuries crops up to grab our attention. Funny, I don’t remember all these peanut allergies when I was a kid!

Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t doubt that there are some real situations where allergies, reactions, and medical realities lead some to radically modify their diet and their environment to protect themselves from severe reactions. But it does seem that there are times when I get the distinct impression that some scientist somewhere is desperate to justify their grant proposal! All the while, in just a few years down the road we suddenly “discover” that this or that element wasn’t as bad as we thought it was!

In ancient societies, for instance, salt was so valuable it was used as currency in some places, and bread, well bread WAS LIFE. No wonder, in the Old Testament, God fed the Israelites “bread from heaven” called manna (This literally means “what is it?”). And in the New Testament, Jesus makes it clear HE is the Bread from heaven sent to satisfy our deepest hunger.

Look at our Gospel Lesson for today:

The Lord said to the Jews who believed in him: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.” John 6:35-39

This emphasis the Lord uses is in the context of the Jews confronting the Lord to give them a “sign” like their forefathers saw in the wilderness when God fed them with this miraculous “bread” from heaven. Of course, these Jews conveniently forgot that their forefathers, even though they saw this miracle, still came up doubting when it came time to enter the promised land. So, wonderful “signs” only serve to reveal faithless hearts rather than actually convince folks to change their ways. But the Lord made it plain to these Jews that He, Himself, is the bread the Father has sent as the last “food” we humans would ever need!

But before we humans can “enjoy” this Bread, we have to admit we are hungry. We have to, in humility, abandon the notion that we are self sufficient. We have to confess not only our hunger, but our inability to actually satisfy this hunger on our own. This is hard for us to do since we struggle daily with the prideful notion we are “able” to take care of ourselves. This goes to the very heart of our deepest spiritual blindness to our true hunger. We medicate this hunger in our souls with all kinds of “lesser foods” that do nothing but mask our hunger and leave us unsatisfied and looking for “more.” No wonder we struggle with desires we don’t know how to satisfy! I can already feel the frustration bubbling up in my heart!

Next, we have to come to the end of ourselves and confess our need for Christ, the Bread of heaven. He is the only “food” that will satisfy our deepest hunger. It isn’t a mistake that the imagery of Bread is used now instead of a “bloody sacrifice.” The violence used to illustrate the ugliness of sin and death has now been completed by Christ becoming the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world and His sacrifice means now all we need is to embrace Him and hear the invitation from His Church “With the fear of God, and with faith and love, draw near!”

Today, what lesser “foods” are you consuming, trying to satisfy this hunger in your soul? Where do you finally need to confess you simply can’t satisfy this deepest hunger on your own? The Faith once, for all, delivered to the Saints waits with a spiritual banquet of wisdom, insight, and satisfying nourishment all coming from Him Who is the Bread of heaven. And all you have to do is have the humility to come and see. All you need is the courage to be Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. Thanks for your notes. Do you have a particular question or prayer request we at Faith Encouraged Ministries can help with? Please email Fr. Barnabas at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

3 comments:

  1. A nice reflection. I struggle with this, Fr. Barnabas, knowing that, in faith, the poisons of the world cannot hurt us. You’re right that faith is weak. On the other hand, the worldly reality is that the poisons have become greatly magnified and our God-given biological systems for dealing with them have been overloaded and damaged. I know children who can die just from being in a room where there are peanuts. And my daughter-in-law keeps a special bag of food in the kitchen for one little girl who for years hasn’t had the luxury of eating much of anything in the way of “lesser foods.” I suspect the problem is not the foods themselves but the pesticides used on them and the children’s immune systems compromised by any number of environmental assaults. Still… dead kids, not old enough for the kind of faith St. Paul had. I am trying to strengthen my faith. I eat what is given to me in charity. And, though I am blessed (that is, old enough) to have been raised in a slightly less poisoned world and am therefore not particularly allergic, I also try to be careful not to tempt the evil one where I don’t need to; so I eat organic when I can and strengthen my immune system as best I know how. But I think these latter times are going to get nothing but trickier in this regard. And, yes, of course Faith comes first; one mustn’t obsess. And you’re quite right that our hunger for a world that is “natural” and “pure”—even just a little less fallen—is sadly misplaced. Pray for us weak ones, Father!

  2. Thank you for the enlightening explanation on Bread from Heaven. If I may, I would like to tell you of the big breakthrough which neurological scientists have made in relation to Food Sensitivities ( not allergies) which cause so much muscular pain and other symptoms Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is one name.They talk of large molecules of food not being contained inside the small intestine but travelling through the walls of the gut to get into the blood stream where they are attacked by enzymes and cause mainly influenza like symptoms. Perhaps if you were interested you could search for a medical site ( not just a commentary) on the subject of FODMAPS * I have been affected for many years and cannot eat many things including wheat. Now it can be shown that it is not”all in the mind”
    * Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.

  3. I am gluten intolerant and never gave a thought about not taking Communion. The question that you need to ask yourself is, ” Is this the body and blood of Christ, or is it bread and wine? If you truly believe this is the body and blood of Christ, as we have all been taught, how can it possibly do harm to you? It can only help.

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