Americans top the list when it comes to eating junk food. In fact, a 2013 Gallup poll found that 8 in 10 Americans eat at fast food restaurants at least monthly. Junk food is so available to us; and let’s be honest, occasionally most of us love to have a good junk food snack. We know, however, that junk food isn’t good for us. The more we eat, the less we hunger for nutritious food, the food that gives us energy and helps us to stay healthy.
While it’s true that Americans eat way too much junk food, I think it’s safe to say that we also consume too much spiritual junk food. Just as the only way to stay physically healthy is by eating nutritious food, the only way to stay spiritually healthy is by avoiding spiritual junk food and consuming the right spiritual food.
Take Elijah, for example, in the first reading of Sunday’s Liturgy. He’s in a crisis. He’s in the desert because he’s fled the wrath of Jezebel who wants him dead. He’s near despair (a form of spiritual junk food), but the angel of the Lord brings him hope. He orders Elijah to eat or else the journey will be too long for him. This scene foreshadows the Eucharist, which we hear about in this Sunday’s gospel. Just as Elijah is urged to avoid despair and to eat the bread that will give him strength, so too we are called to avoid spiritual junk food and to hunger for the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, that gives us strength for our life’s journey.
There are many types of spiritual junk food in which we indulge. There’s the spiritual junk food we put into our minds such as bad television, bad music, or too much time wasted on social media. We can also give into other forms of spiritual junk food such as anger, despair, holding grudges and spreading gossip. The more we feed on spiritual junk food, the further we become from the Lord. There’s only one way to counteract the effects of spiritual junk food and it’s by feeding on the right spiritual food, the Holy Eucharist. The more we receive Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, the more we become like him. We all need the Eucharist. Jesus is our Bread of Life. He is our food for the journey. We need this food, “else the journey will be too long.”
We should all resolve to diet. We need to turn away from spiritual junk food and hunger for the Eucharist, for the more we hunger for the Eucharist, the less we will allow spiritual junk food to control our lives.