Sunday, January 15, 2023

(Spiritual) Superfood

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Readings: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6; Psalm 39 (40): 2, 4, 7-10; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1: 29-34

PictureJannis Brandt on Unsplash

My dear friends, do you know what superfoods are? My guess is that some of you probably know far more about them than I do. According to Wikipedia, “superfood” is actually a marketing term for food claimed to confer health benefits resulting from an exceptional nutrient density.  Superfoods are said to be high in nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. However, while specific superfoods may be beneficial, the term itself isn’t officially recognised or defined. But this hasn’t stopped retailers from charging higher prices for foods labelled as such. Nor has it prevented people, mainly from rich nations like ours, from buying them.

Which goes to show how seriously some of us take our physical health. But our scriptures offer us something like a spiritual superfood. As you’ve probably already noticed, in each of our readings, we find individuals and groups of people who’ve been called by God. In the gospel, even as John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Chosen One of God, John also tells us that he himself was called by God for this very purpose. Not just to baptise people with water for the forgiveness of their sins, but to point them to Jesus. Similarly, in the second reading, Paul refers to himself as one appointed, or called, by God to be an apostle. He also addresses the Corinthians in similar fashion. They too are called. Called to be holy. Called to be saints.

In our readings today, not only do we find people who have received a calling, a vocation, but this sense of being called becomes for them a great source of spiritual nourishment. So, in the first reading, like Paul and John, Israel too is convinced that God has called and formed her in the womb to be his servant. Not just to restore the tribes of Jacob, but to be the light of the nations. And not only does this sense of her own calling give her life meaning and direction, not only does she feel honoured by it, God’s call also becomes her strength. It nourishes and energises her, keeps her spiritually healthy. Which brings to mind how, elsewhere in John’s gospel, Jesus himself says, My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work (4:34).

But can’t we say the same about ourselves? By virtue of our baptism, hasn’t God called us too, as individuals and as Church? Hasn’t God given us a new song to sing? The song of Christ’s merciful love, which we celebrate at this Eucharist. To be sung not just with our mouths, but with our very lives. Isn’t the singing of this song meant to enrich us spiritually, in the same way that superfoods are supposed to nourish us physically? And isn’t this particularly important for us today, when many seem to show signs of spiritual hunger and malnourishment? Signs like feeling chronically burdened or bored, listless or restless, addicted or depressed? Like sheep without a shepherd (Mk 6:34)?

Sisters and brothers, if rich people are willing to pay a premium in response to what is essentially a brilliant marketing tactic, what are we willing to do to enjoy the rich spiritual nourishment that God has prepared for us in Christ?

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