Taste, Bud!

Boy pulling funny face holding green smoothie

“…and there are some standing here who will not taste death…”  Mark 9:1

It’s something you hear at every dinner table in the world: “Well, if you try it, you’ll like it.” Every parent in the world has struggled to get their kid to take a bite of green beans, or salad, or some other food. The way parents are so anxious about it, you’d think that a green bean will make the all difference between a bright future of happy robust children with rosy cheeks running through fields of flowers, or a bleak future of frail children with sunken eyes standing in the cold and the rain,

Well, sometimes, a child will take a bite and find that they like it. Those are happy moments. However, most of the time the response is “euuuuww…yucky!” At that moment, a parent can only sigh and hope for better times. I heard an explanation about this that seemed to make sense to me. The idea is that children have taste buds that are new and so they are better able to discern flavors, and the experience of flavor is more intense for children. Therefore, they may be refusing to eat something because it really does taste bad to them.

Well, that makes sense, but I didn’t like the rest of the explanation. Apparently, as we grow older, our taste buds begin to wear out and the sensations are less intense. This is why adults can eat and enjoy things like stinky cheese and really odd foods (like brussel sprouts-euuuuuw!) This means that my so called refined sense of taste for exotic food is really just a matter of worn-out taste buds.

Taste is a wonderful and mysterious thing. The taste of something can bring back so many memories. I had the sense to make sure that my mother wrote down many of her best recipes. Whenever I eat her applesauce cake, the good flavor reminds me of many Christmas seasons at home. My taste buds may be worn out, but they still like banana pudding.

How did I acquire a taste for death? Somehow along the way, I began to develop a liking for the flavor even though I didn’t know what it was.  I choose to do so many things that carried death in them. The funny thing about the flavor of death is that it tastes like life, and fun, and pleasure, and joy. How can I be so deceived? What happened to my ability to discern life from death?  Are my spiritual taste buds so worn out that I can’t tell the difference?  (Apparently so when I consider the rather sad history of the poor choices I have made.)

The truth of the matter is that I was born with a liking for the taste of death. My Mother and my Father choose the flavor of death, and we were cast out of the Garden of life. Every since that time, we seem to savor the flavor of death. The taste for death has wrecked human life, polluted creation, driven us towards holocaust, pitted brother against brother, and turned the joys of food, sexuality, and family into bondage, dysfunction, and addiction.

How is it then that the Master said that there would be some who would not taste death until they saw the Kingdom come with power? Can my taste for death, a taste that is so much a part of my soul, be changed so that I abhor it and want only to taste life? How can taste buds so worn out from a life of tasting death be renewed to enjoy the flavor of life?

Here in the middle of Lent, when my taste buds reel from the flavors of salads, and beans, and tofu, the Church calls me to venerate the Cross of Christ. And in venerating, I am reminded that there is only one thing that can open the gates of paradise, only one thing that can renew my taste for life, and that is the Cross of Christ. For on that Cross he transformed death into life and from that Cross he invites me to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Each Sunday, I approach the Chalice and I am allowed to taste the flavor of life, the Body that hung on that Cross and the Blood that flowed from it, and it is good, indeed.

So, there is hope, my dear friends, that these old worn out taste buds can be renewed and I will be able to know the difference between the taste of life and the taste of death.

Maybe then, when the devils tells me to “Taste, Bud”, I will be able to say, “euuuuww..yucky!”

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