Originally Published May 2, 2012
This week, I want to talk about a challenge for people who love food and God. I call them faithful foodies. How do you make truth taste good?
In the culinary world, food should be pure, clean, and fresh tasting. Salad ought to taste like lettuce and vegetables and not be overwhelmed by heavy salad dressing. If we are eating fish, it shouldn’t taste like chicken nuggets, like most breaded seafood. Masking the authentic flavors is a big no-no in the modern food world. Manipulating ingredients – salt, pepper, oil, vinegar – to highlight natural flavors separates novices from top chefs.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful if we had that same attitude and skill towards proclaiming the truth? But in a world when political correctness is like another form of religion with its own set of dogmas (we have to be inclusive; we can’t say this; we always have to say that, etc., etc.), we tend to manipulate the truth in such a way that we distort and, in some cases, destroy it. This is especially the case with language about protecting the dignity of human life! But in these challenging times, we also have to recognize that our objective is not to cover up the beauty of truth but to understand and manipulate the other factors, like ingredients, to highlight the beauty of it and make the bitter truth more palatable.
Don’t feel guilty about doing that. When proclaiming the truth, we have to be as smart as parents who top broccoli with little buttered breadcrumbs or incorporate cream and cheese with some spinach to help kids to eat it.
You get the point. Jesus certainly understood the art of making eternal truths bite-sized and appetizing. People came in droves just to savor some of the crumbs that would fall from the Master’s table.
Each May 2, the Universal Church celebrates St. Athanasius who struggled to learn how to present the truth. It wasn’t easy for him. He was a fiery speaker with a temper. Other religious leaders even sought his death. To his credit, he volunteered his own exile, but continued to teach through writings and debates and taught creative and engaging classes to a growing number of students. Eventually he won over hearts and minds of his enemies, similar to the way parents eventually get children to eat their vegetables.
Today, St. Athanasius provides a unique example for faithful foodies – people interested in proclaiming truth unmasked but creatively prepared and beautifully presented. There will always be detractors and hostility towards the Faith. However, our good example will at least get them to appreciate what we hold dearly as uncompromising truths, even if they don’t agree with or fully understand us. Using a cooking example, I still don’t enjoy eating liver, but I realize that different forms of preparation make it a bit more palatable. Depending on how it’s prepared, I can accept liver in bite-sized portions. With a maturing palate, I can also appreciate those who have a penchant for it.
By our good example, our evident joy in celebrating the sanctity of life, and by developing the skill to present the truth of our faith more joyfully, we can win over hearts and minds of people. Maybe they won’t eat up everything we’re serving, but, at the very least, they can learn to nibble on bite-sized truth.
Father in Heaven, make us instruments of Your peace and grace. When we get frustrated about how people reject the beauty of truth, may our patient example inspire us to present it more creatively to win them over. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
|Jack Belby, from St. Mary’s Church in Hudson, Ohio, a master at milkshakes.|
Do you have a technique that helps your children eat something they don’t like?
What is the food that you just can’t stand eating?
Was there a food that you eventually began to appreciate when you matured or at least learned better ways to prepare it?
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