Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaTuesday, December 23, 2014




he Nutritionists say, "You are what you eat." Similarly, you are what you drink. Do you believe this? If yes, then you are nothing but food or drink. If you eat dog meat, then you are a dog. If your delicacy is cow meat, then you are a cow. If you eat bush meat, then you are a bush man. If you are a lover of rice and beans, then you are alias "combido." One who eats monkey meat is a monkey. A snake eater is a snake. If your favourite is goat meat, then you are nothing but a goat. If you drink Hero beer, then you are a hero. If your choice is Gulder, then you are Mr Gold. If you drink small stout, then you are a short man. One who drinks hot drink is hot tempered. If your choice is cold drink, then you are a cold-blooded person. If you drink Holy Water, then you are a holy man, etc. Tell me what you eat or drink and I shall tell you what you are.

Man is a rational animal. After due reflection, Reverend Father Paul-Mary Chukwukebe in his spiritual talk to Awka Diocesan Priests at their first Wednesday Recollection on 3rd Dececember 2014, at Retreat and Pastoral Centre Okpuno in Anambra State, boldly says, "I am not what I eat." He maintains that he is more than what he eats. This assertion struck my brain to reflect on the issue. After due cogitation throughout that day, I became convinced like Father Chukwukebe that I am not what I eat. Nutritionists and their disciples, I want to challenge you on your stand: "You are what you eat." Please, I am not what I eat. My eyes are now open.

Tell me, which sentence is correct: WE EAT TO LIVE or WE LIVE TO EAT? Man is a composite being, made up of body and soul. The body is material while the soul is spiritual. In other words, man is a combination of matter and spirit. The body is mortal while the soul is immortal. Both elements are vital and complimentary. None of them is a human being per se. We can make this simple equation: Body plus Soul = Man (woman). Body minus soul=animal. Soul minus body= ghost. God moulded human body from the dust of the earth and breathed life into it (Gen. 2:7). Male and female he created them. The body needs material nourishment to survive. Therefore, we eat to live. He/she who lives to eat has no hope of resurrection. He/she believes only in biological life. Such a person's spiritual life is questionable. Living to eat is at the animalistic level. Anyone who is over conscious about food lives to eat. Likewise, a gate-crasher lives to eat. What name do you suggest should be given to a child born in the kitchen while her mother was cooking? The life of animals, that live to eat, ends in the grave. But human life is beyond the grave. If you still believe that you live to eat, you should immediately see a psychologist and a spiritualist. You need urgent spiritual surgery. If you have already been baptised, then you need to be re-baptised with fire.

During Jesus Christ's forty days' prayer and fasting in the desert, he felt hungry. He encountered the devil, who tempted him. There were many stones in that desert. Hence the tempter asked him, "If you are truly the Son of God, turn these stones into bread" (Mtt. 4:3). Jesus being wise replied, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on the Word that comes out from the mouth of God" (Mtt. 4:4). If Jesus had believed that man lives to eat, he would have listened to the voice of the devil. By his answer to the bread issue, Jesus Christ has shown that food is necessary but not the most essential thing in human life. Hearing and believing the Word of God are more important than bread. There was a priest who preached on a certain Sunday that we should take the Word of God as our best food. He told the congregation that he lives by the Word of God and that is his food. It happened that his cook was in the church that day. After the Mass, the cooked locked up the kitchen and refectory and went to bed. During lunch time that day, the priest in question came to the refectory to eat. Behold, the refectory and kitchen were under lock and key. After waiting for over thirty minutes, he went to the cook's room to know what was amiss. As he knocked at the door, he heard the cook snoring like a lion. The priest knocked and knocked. At last the cook opened the door reluctantly. She asked, "Father, what can I do for you?" The priest replied angrily, "Are you in your right senses? Look at your watch. Is the time for lunch not gone and yet every place was locked? Where is my food?" The cook laughed and sighed. She told the priest, "Father, you said in the church today that your food is the Word of God. Go and eat your Bible." The priest compelled her to enter the car, so that they go and see the doctor because she was sick. What is your opinion, is the cook really sick? If so, what can we call her ailment?

I was at the grave-side of a departed faithful Christian woman recently. The members of the choir were also there dishing out various hymns. At a point they began singing: "My food is to do my Father's Will." They sang it repeatedly as chorus. As they were singing, I jotted it down. Also I looked at their faces to ascertain how serious they were. I saw of them singing and looking towards the kitchen. I asked myself, "Are these singers serious about what they are singing?" Then I laughed within me. Do you know what happened? Immediately the burial was over, the members of that choir rushed to the place reserved for them, for their food and drinks. They were walking hungrily. I followed them behind. I saw two coolers of fou-fou and soup, two coolers of rice and stew and assorted drinks awaiting them for consumption. I stood at the entrance door and blocked their way. I asked them about what they sang at the grave-side: "My food is to do my Father's Will." They laughed and asked me to absolve them so that they can descend on the food and drinks. One of them told me that it was time to do the will of the stomach. As soon as they sat down, their mouths started singing food sofa. I left them abruptly before laughter disfigures my mouth.

Christmas is once here. As we eat and drink, let us not forget the message of Christmas: The WORD became flesh and dwelt us. It calls for sober reflection and introspection. It is not FOOD and DRINK that became flesh and dwelt among us. Food is made for man. But man is not made for food. Mr Drunkard and Mrs Gluttony went to a Christmas party. The former drank whatever was alcoholic while the latter ate whatever was edible. Instantly their bellies got protruded. As both were staggering home late at night, the spirits were shouting at them. At home their little children were waiting like orphans for their mistress. They pushed the door with extra-ordinary power. Their children dived under the bed trembling. Recognizing their voice, the eldest daughter came out, looking questionably at their parents. The youngest peeped at their dad and mum. She shouted, "Daddy and mummy are pregnant!" Daddy and mummy simultaneously exclaimed, "Shut up!"

As you eat and drink at Christmas, remember the less privileged and the hungry who have no food to eat, and no drinks to drink. A hungry man may not find it easy to say, "Happy Christmas" Food for thought. Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year in advance!