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Track the story with your tongue

by davesandel on March 31st, 2021

Wednesday, March 31, 2021              (today’s lectionary)

Track the story with your tongue

The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue.

In Modena, Italy we asked our B&B host Max whether he lived to eat or ate to live. He was just learning English, and our question confused him, although only for a moment. “Ah, I live to eat,” he smiled, put his fingers to his lips and blew us a kiss.

In Italy this way of life allows for hours-long communal meals, and long lives. Most of Italian food is not fried or overly salted. The use of sugar seems more sparing there. Fast food is NOT the order of the day. People in Italy do much less driving while eating than we do in America. Taste buds blossom early in a child’s life, and lead the way into adulthood.

But I think back two thousand years ago to Jerusalem, with its simpler food – fish and bread, roasted lamb, olives and grapes and figs, and of course the ritual foods of the Jewish Passover, including horseradish, wasabi, the “bitter herbs.”

I look for sympathy, but there is none. Rather, they put gall in my food. In my thirst they give me vinegar to drink. But I will praise the name of God and glorify him with songs of thanksgiving. Yes, the Lord hears the poor.

To paraphrase what Jesus said, “The rich you will always have with you.” Too much fine wine and it loses its flavor. Rich sauces obscure the simple flavors of meat and fish, and too many figs spoil the broth. But “the Lord hears the poor.” Savoring a few bites of well-made food is a greater joy than sitting daily down to tables laden with far too much. The Romans were the first bulimics, right, vomiting so they could continue eating all night?

The disciples asked Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” They did as Jesus had ordered, and then when it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve, and they ate the Passover feast.

Can I walk with the disciples, and let my senses lead the way? My nose and tongue, my eyes and hands and ears show me so many sides of this week in Jerusalem. On the way to the market I taste the dust when soldiers ride fast through the square, then spit it out and look for a drink of water to clear my throat. We find the ingredients and prepare the food morning, noon and night, and then for Passover, all special foods, all quiet ritual.

So much to look forward to, just as there is every year. But Jesus restrains himself. His words are few, his smile fades. Will he even taste the food we fix for Thursday night? I wonder. I wonder too, what is he thinking? When will he tell us? Do I even want to know?

My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, and I have set my face like flint. For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face.

Something weighs heavy on Jesus, so it weighs on us as well. When I close my eyes at night, dark dreams crowd in on me. But I quiet myself, and remember the words of David in his cave.

O taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

(Isaiah 50, Psalm 69, Matthew 26)


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