I’ve been having a love-hate relationship with rice. In media, there’s been virtually an all-out war against all things carb, and for someone at my age, who needs to be increasingly conscious of one’s diet and health, I’ve exerted every effort to minimize my rice intake.
Having lived outside the Philippines the past two years has made it easier to stay away from rice. And I have to say I’ve done pretty well. Especially considering that we serve rice at almost every single meal of the day back home, I’ve grown accustomed to an alternative–and healthier–sort of menu every day: cereal and fruits in the morning, a sandwich for lunch, and meat and vegetables for supper.
But every once in a while, especially when one meets up with Filipinos, with the usual salu-salo, rice makes its appearance on the table. All it takes is just one spoonful of rice–especially if flavored with adobo or sinigang–and suddenly I remember again what it means to be really hungry and what it means to really eat.
I now believe that if you’re Pinoy or Chinese, no meal is ever complete without rice. We usually focus our attention on the viand, but rice does its quiet but important work, and we don’t realize it until we live without it for a while. We may flirt with Italian pasta, British potato, French bread, or Chinese noodles, but at the end of the day, it is rice that we have been created for.
I think what rice is to me is what bread is to the Jews. For the Jews, bread is a staple food, something they eat routinely as part of a standard diet, without which, for them, no meal is complete, and which they will value only if they miss it.
So when our Lord calls himself the “Bread of Life” and when he promises eternal life to whoever eats his flesh, he is offering himself as staple food. And the good news is, unlike rice or bread, he’s good for our health!
And so here’s the Lord’s invitation: Why not consider him a quiet but necessary part of our everyday diet? Though we may feast on whatever else the world has to offer, nothing else will nurture us the way Jesus can. For we have a hunger that only he can satisfy, a need that only he can meet. No life will ever be complete without him.
Have we made our Lord our staple food?