Perhaps you saw a recent story about a new book that contends Jesus knew how to cook, practiced the culinary arts and understood its mysteries and traditions.
The book is La Cucina del Risorto (in English: The Cooking of the Risen One) by Fr. Giovanni Cesare Pagazzi, an Italian theologian.
I'm sure Father Giovanni means for this all to be taken seriously, but after I jumped to the quick Christian conclusion that Jesus himself is our food and drink, my singularly antic mind began to imagine him speaking to his sometimes-dim-witted disciples about the nuances of nutrition and diet.
Let's listen in:
Jesus: OK, guys. Everybody grab a pomegranate.
Peter: I deny knowing anything about pomegranates except that they seem weird. In fact, I deny it three times.
Jesus: Oh, Peter, feed yourself with these and, whatever you do, don't waste them on sheep. I can tell you that when science eventually gets its act together, it will reveal that a single pomegranate can supply half of our daily fiber and vitamin C needs.
John: When I write my Gospel later, I'm going to do it in Greek, so if I mention this at all I'll call it vitamin Gamma, not C. By the way, what's a vitamin?
Jesus: It's something you can't live without. Like me. All right, set your pomegranates aside and throw some fish on the grill. Fish and pomegranates go well together. And fish can give you protein and omega-3.
John: Leave the Greek transliteration to me, Jesus. In English, I'll make it Z-3.
Jesus: Moving on. You know that my cousin John -- not you, John, but John the baptizer -- ate a lot of honey. I guess it made the locusts go down. But I advise you to skip the locusts and just go for the honey itself. It will help you keep your blood sugar levels in good shape and help manage your cholesterol.
James: You're making up words now. I never heard Mom talk about cholesterol.
Jesus: That's because your mother knew nothing about cholesterol. Consider this information a special revelation, James. But when you mention it to others, don't be vein about it. Do you need me to explain that pun to you, James?
James: What pun?
Jesus: I thought so. Let me tell you next about olives and olive oil. As you surely know --
Nathaniel: I asked you not to call me Shirley, Lord.
Jesus: -- olives grow on trees and taste terrible, though better than the trees themselves. But they can be squished into olive oil, which is full of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
Matthew: So you're anti-olives, but olive oil is anti-other-stuff?
Jesus: Yep, I love oil.
Matthew: Olive oil what?
Jesus: I said, "I love oil."
Matthew: I know. But what about it?
Jesus: No, What's on third base. How are you guys ever going to pass along my teachings if you don't listen up?
Judas: We're so poor we can't even pay attention.
Jesus: And you know why we're so poor, Judas, and why we'll always have the poor with us. It's because your hand is often in our cookie jar. And by the way, speaking of cookies, avoid them. Well, most of them. They're full of fats and sugars and all the stuff that tastes good. No religious leader tells people to do things they enjoy, such as eating cookies. And I'm no different in that way.
Andrew: So if we ever need food and some kid offers cookies, I'm going to turn him down and see if he has any fish instead.
Jesus: Good, Andrew. Fish would be good. But bread would be good, too, if the kid has any. In the end, I'd rather be known as the bread of life and not the cookie of life. And in that regard, I expect to get my just desserts.
[Bill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder and award-winning former faith columnist for The Kansas City Star, writes the daily "Faith Matters" blog for the Star's website and a monthly column for The Presbyterian Outlook. His latest book is Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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