One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Needing to eat is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human. In today’s Gospel we are reminded that Jesus is well aware of this fact of life. It’s beautiful and astounding to think how Jesus made this fact the very center of the Eucharist; tying our need for spiritual nourishment and physical nourishment into one divine sacrament.
St. Ignatius designed the Spiritual Exercises primarily to develop people’s spiritual lives. However, Ignatius had the wisdom to include guidelines with regard to eating. Although the focus is largely on how to avoid excess, it also includes caution against falling into sickness. Spiritual directors of the Exercises usually lead each day’s meeting with questions regarding the retreatants health, diet, and overall physical well-being. To be human is to be part of this world, and it’s incredible to think that, through the incarnation, our God really gets that.
Lord Jesus, during your earthly ministry you ate and drank with friends and strangers alike, nourishing their bodies as you nourished their souls. Help us to care for the physical needs of our brothers and sisters as we strive to grow closer to you. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team