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  • Writer's pictureFather Nicholas Lang

The Third Sunday of Easter

“What wouldn't we give for

That extra bit more, That's all we live for

Why should we be fated to do

Nothing but brood on food Magical food, Wonderful food, Heavenly food, Beautiful food, Food, Glorious food.”


“Food, Glorious Food," written by Lionel Bart, is the opening song from the 1960s Broadway musical Oliver! It is sung when the workhouse boys are dreaming and fantasizing about food while going to collect their gruel from the staff of the workhouse.


Have you ever been really hungry? Like after the fasting we need to do on the day before that GI procedure we all dread, not to mention that awful liquid concoction we are required to drink?


There is something about food, isn’t there? Whether it’s truly glorious as in fine dining or the slop doled out to the half-starved orphans in the musical, food and eating is central to our existence and when we’re deprived of it we miss it and, quite honestly, we can get pretty cranky.


But beyond the aspect of bodily nourishment, there is something about gathering with others to enjoy food together that also feeds our spirit. People have come together around the table since the beginning of recorded time. Luke’s passage today is a feeding story. Jesus asks for food, a meal with his friends.  Jesus showed us again and again that caring for one another’s needs—even the mundane like eating—must take precedence over teaching and evangelizing. Jesus never let people go hungry.


This Gospel is a story about real people who experienced just such an amazing phenomenon and who tried their best to convey it to the next generation and for generations to come— even to us who are centuries and centuries removed from them. Their confusion and lack of understanding is very real and very present in this text and that is testimony to their humanity. They were startled and terrified by it all. Who wouldn’t be?


These first disciples of Jesus did not experience resurrection as some triumphant single event, but rather in fits and starts, in hours of both uncertainty and elation, during days of numbness and grief, interrupted by moments of holy presence and powerful faith.


Resurrection can be very scary. It would be easier for the disciples—and easier for us—if Jesus never really broke free of the tomb.


If Jesus stays dead, they can go back to their families and their businesses and their comfortable routines. If Jesus stays dead, they don’t have to follow him or continue on this risky mission to which he called them. Resurrection can be both scary—and wonderful.


Just like our ancestors in the faith, sometimes we may come to this table with belief and sometimes with doubts; sometimes we come with joy and sometimes we come with sadness; sometimes we may come with confusion and sometimes with certainty—yet, we come—and no matter who we are or what we think of ourselves or what others may think of us, we are fed as the beloved daughters and sons of God. And maybe, just maybe we recognize Jesus’ presence because we have tasted this holy food.


There may be times when we have come and extended our hands to receive that bread when we have all but pronounced hope dead, given up on the possibility that life could be better or fuller. Then, that holy food is placed in our hands and we hear again the familiar words that new life is about to commence in us: The Body of Christ; the Bread of heaven.


What are you hungry for now? What is the food that might fill you up and satisfy your craving?  


Cynthia Lindner, professor of preaching and pastoral care at Chicago Divinity School, preached it this way:

“We make pilgrimage to the tomb of some long-dead dream or desire, only to be surprised by the contractions of resurrection: hope still stirs.


“We glance up from our daily commute and our eyes meet the eyes of a stranger who nods in a moment of holy recognition: the birth pangs of resurrection, once again. We clasp the weathered hand of an aging loved one or playfully count the toes of a toddler; our hearts and hands open when we hear that oh-so-human and oh-so-divine request, ‘Do you have anything to eat?’


“We break bread around cafeteria tables, soup kitchen tables, dining room tables, communion tables—and our minds are opened to understand ourselves and our place in the world yet again, God’s affirmation that creation matters, that love and justice matter, that humanity, in all of its ambiguity and complexity, is still fearfully and wonderfully God-made.”


And for that and all that feeds our souls, we give thanks.

Magical food,

Wonderful food,

Heavenly food,

Beautiful food,

Food, Glorious food.”

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