The Word Among Us

October 2010 Issue

Of Milk and Meat

By: Joe Difato

When I was in college, I played on the golf team. Before I ever took a swing I would stand back and imagine what I wanted to do: the arc of the swing, the flight path of the ball, and the end result of where I wanted the ball to land. Over and over again my coach told me that the secret to playing exceptional golf was to make sure that you are imagining a success story and not a horror story as you picture your swing.

This is one example of how helpful it can be to use our imaginations when we are taking on a challenge. This month, we want to take a look at the way the Bible uses the images of milk and meat to teach us how to grow in our faith.

We can see this image of milk and meat in 1 Peter, in the Letter to the Hebrews, and in 1 Corinthians. In each of these letters, we see how valuable “milk” is for new believers—for young people and those joining the church through RCIA. But we also see that milk is insufficient for a more mature believer. They need meat as well to help them grow stronger in the faith.

The Same, Yet Different. Milk and meat have a lot in common—they are both full of protein, for instance, and they come from the same source. But they are also very different. Spiritually, we can say the same thing. The “milk” and “meat” of the gospel are essentially the same message of God’s love and Christ’s redemption. But the difference lies in the way we apply these truths. Those who rely on milk are content with the basics of their faith, while the meat eaters want more of God in their lives.

Of course, we shouldn’t take these distinctions too literally. For example, I might be a meat eater because I want more of Jesus in my life each day. But at the same time, I might be a milk drinker because there are ways that I am content with my faith life as it is and I can resist the call to deeper holiness.

It would be a mistake to say anyone is a complete milk drinker or a total meat eater. Rather, the point of the imagery is to help us answer the kind of questions that the Letter to the Hebrews encourages us to examine: “Do I try each day to learn more about God, or have I become sluggish?” “Do I try to discern the messages that the world gives me in the course of my day, or do I just soak up everything?” “Do I feel prepared to share my faith with other people?” (Hebrews 5:11-14).

Simple images like milk and meat can truly help us evaluate our faith and grow closer to Jesus. I hope you enjoy reading this issue. May God bless you always.

Joe Difato, Publisher | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)