Wow, where do I even begin? This book was so dense it took me three times longer to read than books that size usually do. I also basically highlighted the whole thing. In this text, Norman Wirzba explores the connection between, as you guessed, food and faith. He delves into the significance and sacrificial act of eating, connects eating to the Eucharist and Trinitarian theology, and provides a different view of food that we should adopt to enter into communion with one another, the earth, and God. All in all, this is a fantastic book, and I recommend it to anyone who would like to have a deeper understanding of the connection between food and faith. Most notably,
“There is an ‘abiding’ in Christ, but there is also an abiding of Christ (in the one who eats)…I eat the flesh of Christ. I take his body into my own. Yet in this act I place myself in Christ – rather than simply placing Christ in me.”
People who argue for the Eucharist have a special place in my heart. 🙂
Assimilate and Abide
From this book, I gathered that we know our food assimilates into us because when we eat food, we do not become the food. We may become the characteristics of the food we like to eat, but we do not become the food. For example, if the vast amount of foods that I eat are unhealthy foods, then I will become unhealthy. However, if I eat a hot dog, I will not become a literal hot dog. For this reason, our food assimilates into our being rather us into its being. If the Eucharist were purely symbolic, then the bread and wine would assimilate to us, and that would be the end of that. Christ abiding in us would be over as soon as our digestion was complete.
However, through the Eucharist being the actual substance of the body and blood of Christ, we are enabled to assimilate into Him as well as have Him abide in us. While we digest the appearance of bread and wine, we don’t digest the divinity of the body and blood of Jesus. Through this inability to digest, we are able to assimilate into Christ while Christ simultaneously abides in us. FOREVER.
Additionally, through receiving the Eucharist and it being the body and blood of Christ, we are united as one body of Christ through the indwelling of Christ in us. Each of us is connected through the fact that we receive Christ in the Eucharist, and he abides in us as well as us in Him. If we were only to think the Eucharist was symbolically the body of Christ, then we would only be symbolically united. We know that this cannot be because Christ commanded us to be one body.
“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.”
Believing that the substance of the Eucharist is the flesh and blood of Christ in the appearance of bread and wine is the only way in which we can abide in Christ, He can abide in us, and we can be one unified body of His.
Wirzba goes onto say, when we place ourselves in Christ, we participate in a continuation of him. Through this continuation of His life, we invite God to be present in ours, just as Christ was always present with the Father. Every time we participate in the Eucharist, we become more and more in God’s presence. So let’s take a note from Food and Faith and celebrate the Eucharist as often as we can, being assimilated into God’s presence bite by bite.
What does the Eucharist mean to you? Leave your responses in the comments below!
Purchase Food and Faith by Norman Wirzba here. This is not an affiliate link and I do not receive any money from the purchase of this book. I just think it’s a great by and want to recommend it to everyone I know!
Want awesome recipes and faith posts! I recommend the spaghetti squash with pesto and prosciutto, the best chia seed pudding, sweet potato pasta with a garlic cream sauce, the one question I always ask myself before I eat, 3 things food reminds me of every day, 3 reasons why I fasted yesterday and why you should too!
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Wirzba, N. (2011). Food and faith: A theology of eating. New York: Cambridge University Press.