I am so often amazed at God’s brilliance and I’m sure I don’t see one ten thousandth of it! Jesus’ request in the Flame of Love that we make our meals tasteless is brilliant. In something so small and trivial that it almost seems laughable and strange, our Lord brings forth great spiritual power.
By making this request, Jesus gives us, in a sense, the ability to use the power of fasting continuously and in all circumstances. We say often that we must fast with wisdom and some people should not fast at all for health reasons and that is true but even those who cannot fast at all can make their meals tasteless. Whether you are diabetic, hypoglycemic, have a physically demanding job, or overwhelming obligations – this is “fasting” everyone can do.
And we can do it all the time! Unless we have some special grace from God, we can only fast for so long before we need to eat for the sake of having the energy to love and serve others but making our meals tasteless gives us the ability to sacrifice our food in love for the sake of others with every meal. Yes, tasteless meals enable fasting for everyone all the time.
The underestimated power of our bellies!
I suspect many of us may be like me and underestimate just how attached we are to food and thus how powerful a sacrifice of love for others our meals can be. I remember when I was newly returned to the Church and had learned about detachment while doing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. I was on an IcelandAir flight from Maine to London and reading Saint Teresa of Avila who was describing her encounter with Saint Peter of Alcantara and his great detachment including from food. I thought to myself, “I don’t think I’m that attached to food; I can fast for days and it really doesn’t bother me.” Then they brought me the IcelandAir menu and it was all fish; I REALLY don’t like fish. I quickly learned I was a little more attached to food than I thought!
Is this really important to Jesus?
Come on – this is silly. Is this really important to Jesus? Let’s listen to Jesus from July 20, 1962 in the Diary: Jesus: “My little one, get rid of anything that gives taste to your meals. Only in this way, will I be your guest. What is tasty for you is tasteless for Me. I ask you, therefore, that if you invite Me, seek what pleases Me.”
Why? Because love is more important to Jesus that the taste of our food. If given a choice between eating something tasty but with no spiritual value and eating something tasteless that God will use for the salvation of souls, which would love choose? It’s really very simple. If we truly love Jesus, then we will do the things that give Him joy rather than indulge ourselves. Then our tasteless meals will take on the true taste of love.
Is this really important to Jesus? Again, let’s listen to what He says on August 17, 1963: During lunch, it was very difficult to make my meal tasteless. So, I decided to eat one half and to make tasteless the other half. Our Lord sadly observed.
Jesus: “I accepted sufferings without a thought and I saved you from all your sins, not just from some. Do not be stingy. May our hands gather in unity.”
Yes, let us be united to Jesus even in what we eat. We might even consider offering each tasteless meal for a specific person – especially those who have hurt us. Of course, many of us who have consecrated ourselves to our Blessed Mother give all we do to her to do as she sees fit but we can still think about those people when we offer this loving sacrifice even if our Blessed Mother will use it elsewhere. In this way, our meals become infused with grace and we shine more and more brightly with light of Jesus, the Flame of Love in the littlest of things. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in that which is greater”(Luke 16:10 DRC); “His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt 25:21 DRC)
But what about my family?!!
We do have to be careful when it comes to our families. If your entire family are enthusiastic livers (sic.) of the Flame of Love – great, you can serve liver every night (sorry for the pun). But, if your family tells you that, if you serve one more meal of unsalted vegetables over rice with no sauce or gravy, they’re going to leave, you might want to listen to them 🙂 So, what can one do in those circumstances?
Well . . . we can take a page out of Saint Francis of Assisi’s playbook and add things to our individual plate that will make the meal more of an offering of love. How about some garlic with that ice cream? Or maybe a dose of horseradish and hot salsa in the yogurt? Don’t like spicy food? How about zapping up the pasta with some red pepper? Maybe some turmeric and black pepper in the breakfast cereal – does wonders for inflammation and saves souls at the same time! Or just eat your salad without dressing.
I know this may sound very silly but, if you start doing this, I think you will experience two things very quickly. First, you may learn that you, too, are much more attached to food than you thought. But, second and far more important, you may find that you are building the nature of God through the effect of grace – the divine nature that sacrifices for others in things big and small. When it becomes your nature to choose a meal that is unpleasant as an offering for others, you will find yourself doing this in other areas of your life – always putting other before self. You will find yourself thinking and feeling and acting and being like Jesus – living the Unity Prayer – by the effect of Grace. The little things like the sacrifice of the taste of a meal build to bigger things – giving our lives for the salvation of others in every moment and every decision.
So use this little request of Jesus to do big things. Who would ever have thought that those brussels sprouts or that cauliflower could save souls! It’s God saying, “if you’re willing, I’m willing – give me a little to show your love, and I’ll use it for souls.” Let us serve Jesus the meal He wants – the one that is tasty to Him. That’s what love does.