Pope Francis, in his weekly audience, continued his series on virtues and vices. His brief address concerned gluttony. Pope Francis notes the stark contrast between John the Baptist and Jesus pertaining to food. John the Baptist ate what could be found. Scripture tells us his food was honey and locusts. In the Gospel of Luke, the evangelist puts much emphasis on the ministry of table fellowship. The picture of the plump, stout Jesus that greets you at the back of our Passionist Community at St. Vincent Strambi reminds me of this.
Pope Francis desires that we reflect on our relationship with food. Many Passionist brothers have talked about partaking in sumptuous feasts on solemnities and high feasts. I myself have celebrated such great feasts with my Passionist brothers. During my novitiate on Christmas Eve, the novices and local community spent hours at the table feasting, dancing and singing karaoke.
Christ called his disciples to celebrate the bridegroom while he is present. The day will come when he is not present. When this moment arrives, the disciples can fast and perform other penances. Christ calls us to celebrate food and the company of others. Christ fulfills the law and its precepts. He also emphasizes balance. The Sabbath was created for humanity; humanity to rest just as God rested on the seventh day.
We thank God for His many gifts and pray we may act responsibly in the enjoyment of God’s food and other gifts.
Fr. Phillip Donlan, CP, is the Associate Director of Ministry at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.