Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 33; 2Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15
Today’s Liturgy of the Word anticipates the Kingdom in the most immediate and embodied metaphor of all: that of eating. The Israelites eat their first meal of the produce of the Promised Land. And what a feast it is: unleavened bread and roasted corn; simple, flavoursome and nutritious (and as such, a rather apt metaphor for God). The psalm response calls us to Taste and see that the Lord is good! Paul speaks of our becoming the goodness of God. And Jesus responds to Pharisaic criticism of his eating with sinners by recounting the tale of the Prodigal Son, a ‘sinner’ whose conversion comes when in his hunger he envies the pigs the husks they eat, and whose homecoming is celebrated with a banquet. Just as spousal metaphors for union with God illuminate its interpersonal nature, so culinary metaphors illuminate its transfigurative dimension. We become what we eat. Sacramentally, we become the goodness of God by eating the goodness of God. But as the thirteenth century Dutch poet Hadewijch saw, where God is concerned, eating too is interpersonal: when we eat God, he eats us:
Each knows the other through and through
In the anguish or the repose or the madness of Love,
And eats his flesh and drinks his blood.
The heart of each devours the other’s heart,
One soul assaults the other and invades it completely,
As he who is Love itself showed us
When he gave us himself to eat,
Disconcerting all the thoughts of man.