He who loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).
This quote from the book of Matthew describes one of the quintessential paradoxes of the Christian life. If we are to discover life, a life that is infused with real hope, joy, and peace then we must surrender everything, which include our desires, success, and failures. This truth has been proven by the life of Christ and then re-produced repeatedly for us to see through the lives of the saints. These people were able to become completely detached from the things offered by this world while at the same time proclaim the goodness of creation and become truly alive and able to appreciate and enjoy these gifts in their fullness. While this deep theological truth may seem distant to most of us, we can begin to participate in it by becoming intentional about our lives, beginning with the daily decision of what to eat.
How can this decision help us become saints?
The physical and spiritual life of a person have many parallels and St. John Paul II taught us in his work about the “Theology of the Body” that “the body, in fact, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine” (General Audience 2/20/80). So there is a critical interplay between the physical and spiritual life of each person. With this frame of reference we can begin to dig into parts of our physical life and discover greater spiritual realities and how they converge.
Eating a clean diet isn’t easy, especially in the sugar and fat laden American food markets. Most of the good stuff found in the middle isles of the grocery stores are packed with additives and sugar that pamper our palette and quickly transition to addictive cravings. So one way we can participate in the great Christian paradox of losing our life in order to find it is by losing our cravings for salty, sweet, scrumptious treats in order to find our life that is healthy and balanced.
In Deuteronomy 30:19, God says to his people “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live”. The most disturbing part of this passage is that our handle on freedom has gone so sideways that God has to implore us to choose life rather than death. In this same way, by making healthy food choices, we can practice and participate in God’s desire for us to live full lives. Just imagine during your next trip to the grocery store hearing a booming voice proclaim; I set before you, broccoli and Ghirardelli chocolate, swiss chard and Doritos; therefore choose broccoli!
The Choice is Yours
So while it is true that we can intentionally begin to bend our will towards the good by making clean eating choices, the analogy falls monumentally short of the life that Christ promises us if we choose to surrender to Him for His sake. Healthy eating decisions may curb disease to a certain extent and slow degeneration, but it can’t fulfill us like walking in Our Lord’s footsteps can. However, the struggle to align our will, our decisions, with the good (a.k.a. God), is essential in making progress towards a radical life of love and can begin with simple decisions like carrots or cake. Which do you choose?