We live in a land of plenty. Few people experience a lack of essential needs. With one click, Amazon can deliver a new bicycle, rolls of toilet paper and a TV to our front door. The phrase that is commonly used to describe this phenomenon is “immediate gratification.” Although this is a blessing of living in such a great country, there is a dark side. Many of us are disconnected from the sense of patiently waiting and suffering to attain things. We see this most clearly in regards to food. Most Americans do not grow their own produce or raise livestock. There is not a thought about where food comes from or how it is created. A gap exists between the production of goods and the reception of goods. As a result, we become indulgent and wasteful, taking for granted things which the majority of the human race cannot enjoy. We drive-thru McDonalds and expect to order a hamburger or pull into Publix and expect to see the shelves stocked with items. Convenience breeds indifference and an unappreciative heart is quick to squander. St. Thomas Aquinas defines gluttony as an inordinate relationship with material things. It can also be defined as an ingratitude for the goods we possess. To be gluttonous, therefore, is not only to eat a lot. It means to treat material things- time, money, food, technology- as the ultimate end of our lives. We development an obsession with eating or checking our Facebook page. The thought crosses our mind regularly. Things control us instead of us controlling things. The fallout of these unhealthy and undisciplined desires can be dangerous. Obesity, lack of hygiene, technology addictions, attention deficit and poor self-control are just a few symptoms. We are created to be healthy and wholesome persons whose bodies and souls reflect the beauty of God. How can we do so when our mind, heart or body is being controlled by external things? St. Paul warns against this when he tells the Philippians, “Your god is your stomach!” (Phil. 3:19). We know that gluttony of food, time or resources is never fulfilling. We may be stuffed with desserts or stimulated by hours of Youtube videos, but we are not satisfied. There is a hunger that is much deeper, one that can only be filled by Christ. This is why the saints could go days without eating and years in silence, yet remain joyful. They recognized the longing of their souls and fulfilled them appropriately. “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:14). Allow Christ to fill your soul. He is what you are really searching for in the things of the world.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony