Feasting on good news
Christmas shows us God's interest in us
By Tony Staley
A recent debate in Italy about food serves up a mental meal.
Massimo Salani, a theologian in Pisa, served the first course
when he told an Italian newspaper that McDonald's-type fast foods
signal the "complete neglect of the sacred nature of food." He
also equated fast foods with a Protestant way of thinking as
opposed to the Catholic idea of a community meal.
McDonald's rejected Salani's reasoning, as did Swiss Fr. Georges
Cottier, the papal theologian, who said he prefers traditional
Italian food as a matter of taste - not religion.
But, Fr. Cottier said, both church and society need to reflect on
the increasing reliance on quick meals. "In the Christian vision,
there's a deeper meaning to meals, which we find in the Bible,
where it speaks of special feasts and fasting periods." He also
spoke of the importance of prayer before meals.
Salani, who has published a book on food and the world's
religions, said Christianity, unlike other faiths, has no taboo
foods and generally leaves eating choices up to human freedom.
Why are theologians checking our plates and take-out bags? The
answer may be found in our name - Catholic. The word Catholic
means universal - both in the sense that Catholics are in every
racial, national and ethnic group in the world and in the sense
of an interest in whatever pertains to us as God's creatures.
If we needed any more proof of that second truth, we need look no
further than Christmas. It celebrates the Second Person of the
Trinity becoming human. As one of us, Jesus immersed himself in
daily life - work, worship, friendships, conversation and meals,
even feasts. Plus, he gave us himself as the bread of life and
living water that will erase all our hungers and thirst.
Meals are our chance to gather as home church where we invite
Christ into our midst, thank God for the food and let the Spirit
enliven our meal, companionship and discussions.
Our meals - be it the Eucharistic banquet at Mass or family
dinner - should enrich our entire being, both on Christmas and
throughout the year. Bon appétit!