I’ll give him this: The boy can certainly crunch-and-munch a peach.
Our not-quite-two-year-old grandson has many other fetching qualities, of course. Still, it was pleasing to see this latest skillset in evidence when we took Francis and his mommy to a local orchard for a peach-picking excursion the other day.
A fringe benefit of “picking your own” at this place is that you’re encouraged to eat all the fruit you like…even as you’re plunking other peaches into a take-home basket.
In Francis’ case, we didn’t have to ask twice. As soon as he’d sunk his teeth into the juicy fruit, he became a little-man-on-a-mission…chewing and gnawing and slurping his way right down to the pit, almost without taking a breath. Can’t say that I blame him: Warmed in the summer sun, the peaches were quite delectable. Almost heavenly…and unquestionably worthy of one’s full attention.
It was an occasion to give thanks for God’s bounty…and perhaps, too, to marvel at the miracle of our taste buds. A hungry people, we don’t always eat mindfully it seems to me. All too often, we’re inclined to gobble our food. Somehow, though, a fresh-picked peach manages to penetrate this haste. It surprises and delights us. It encourages us to savor (and even give praise for) its intricate, complex interaction of acidity and sweetness and aroma.
I recalled our close encounter with this summery, sensory delight when I spent a little time reflecting on Jesus’ words in Sunday’s gospel. Jesus sees right away that he’s dealing with a hungry people – spiritually hungry, and yet not all that mindful of the bounty they enjoy.
[They said to him]: Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
It’s almost as if they wear their manna like a badge of honor – a sign of their chosenness. But then, Jesus invites them to go a bit deeper.
So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”
The plot thickens…the mystery deepens. There’s more to this food they eat, it seems. It’s unexpectedly intricate and complex.
So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
True enough, it takes a leap of faith to appreciate exactly what Jesus places on the table.
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
But for those who believe – those who have eyes and ears and taste buds of faith – this is a peachy food indeed…a food worth savoring. It is a heavenly repast, unquestionably worthy of one’s full attention.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.