You will find the title of this article, “They ate and were satisfied” as a line in the gospel reading for this morning’s Mass. It is the story of the feeding of the four thousand as told in Mark 8:1-10.
Jesus knows the needs of the people. He knows they need food to eat. He knew that disciples saw feeding the 4,000 as an impossible task. He knew there were 4,000 people there and just seven loaves of bread and a few fish. He also knew he would feed all of them and they will be satisfied.
We need physical food to sustain our physical bodies. That is the reality of human life. How much do we eat food to fulfill our real need and how much do we eat food for pleasure or out of habit?
I recently experienced a severe toothache. It began bad on Friday so it was Monday before I got into the dentist. So, I adjusted my eating patterns to minimize the toothache. This meant no cold beverages, no candy bars, and avoiding foods that took more effort to chew.
I’m happy to say the dentist immediately took care of the pain issue. It is not the pain that I want to talk about it. It is what the toothache helped me realize about my eating habits that is the point I want to discuss.
When I take my walk on a weekend, I like to stop at the store and get a couple of candy bars. In general, I also know I eat more than I should and there are certain foods I enjoy. While I had the toothache, I eat no candy, eat less, and didn’t have my favorite meals that are very routine for me on the weekend.
As I found myself lamenting not having these foods, I had been reading a book that talked about our need to let go of attachments to focus on God. Our attachments can get in the way of our relationship with God. This brought me to realize that what I was missing was not so much the food itself but the habit (patterns) of what I ate. I had become attached as much, if not more, to the idea of having these particular foods than the food itself. Food itself is not good or bad morally. However, our attachment to the food can be bad when it becomes too important.
I’m happy to say the toothache is over (the dentist does need to do further repair). It’s been five days now and I haven’t had any candy (to be honest – I did have pie once and cake once with a meal). I have also ate “less”. Will I eat candy bars again? I haven’t decided. I’m staying away from them, at least for now, to break my bad habits. I’m also trying to me more conscience about how much I eat to take care of the body that God has given me and to let go of the attachment to food as a source of “comfort” to appreciate God as my true comfort.
Going back to Jesus feeding the 4,000, Jesus fed them with bread. He feeds us with the Bread of Life that we know as the Eucharist.
So, God used the suffering of my toothache as an opportunity to make me realize my attachments so that I might let go of them to focus on him. Thank you God.