“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have beheld you…” – Psalm 63:1
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; they shall be filled” – Matthew 5
Given that one of my life heroes is Julia Child it will come as no surprise that preparing and serving exquisite food for friends is a singular delight. So is eating that food! Imagine spending several hours preparing a menu, shopping for the best ingredients, pairing the wines for each course, bringing the feast together, creating an environment for the enjoyment of that food as the basis of people connecting with one another, cooking through a couple of days for the feast, and then, when the guests arrive hearing them say, “Oh thanks, this is all lovely but we stopped at Wendy’s on the way over. We’re good. Hey, do you have any Mountain Dew in the fridge?”
Oh my. The problem, of course, wasn’t with the feast but with the appetites of the guests being sated before they arrived, and this because they didn’t realize the beauty and bounty of what was going to be on the table. Had they maintained their hunger they would’ve enjoyed the finest of fare.
Humans were created hungry. We are omnivores, capable of eating all manner of sustenance. Our first instructions from God included being informed of the Feast he’d prepared for his beloved children, a feast of fruit from every tree they could see around them. Humankind was born with hunger, and just as healthy babies arrive crying to be satisfied, so we all long for our hunger to be met by healthy provision. If there’s a problem it isn’t with our appetite per se, but rather with the poor food we choose over the rich fare that’s on offer. Our first parents made this mistake, choosing to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; in eating they died rather than finding life.
In many ways redemption is the story of a new feast, an invitation to the Banquet of the Lord in which he satisfies the deepest hunger of our souls. History began with a feast, will end with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and those at that blessed table will find themselves there because in the middle of history Jesus “took bread and when he had broken it, gave to them saying, ‘Take, eat, this is my body….’” Jesus’ ‘take and eat’ undid the disaster of Adam and Eve’s ‘they took and ate.’
A Lenten fast – or any fast – reminds us of the deep hold our natural hunger holds over us, and how very little attention we pay to the deeper longings of the soul. CS Lewis noted about our desires that we make not too much of them, but too little. We don’t see them as reflections and pathways to the truly satisfying and beautiful food we are offered by God, the lover of our soul.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Jesus offers us himself as true food. He offers his presence and his word as the sustenance we cry out for, replacing the junk food with which we pollute our souls and destroy our spiritual health. “Thy words were found and I ate them, and they became to me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart”, wrote Jeremiah. “Long for the pure milk of the word that you may thereby grow”, wrote Peter. The Feast of Scripture and Sacrament will satisfy us in a way that even the most fantastic meal never can. What we lack, however, is deep hunger. We have filled our souls with a constant diet of social media, entertainment, news cycle fears, gossip, and an emotional life marked more by anger and malice than mercy and peace. When we are offered the banquet of heaven we find ourselves disinterested; like my dinner guests, we stopped along the way for a sub-standard fare and missed the wonder of the Feast.
Is there an answer? Yes. It begins with asking God to create in us new hunger, a voracious appetite for the beauty of his presence, for the soul-satisfying revelation of his splendor. In this season of fasting, let us ask God to nurture in us the hunger and thirst that will lead us back to him.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Open, O doors and bolts of my heart, that Christ the King of Glory may enter! Enter, O my Light, and enlighten my darkness; enter, O my Life, and resurrect my deadness; enter, O my Physician, and heal my wounds; enter, O Divine Fire, and burn up the thorns of my sins; ignite my inward parts and my heart with the flame of Thy love; enter, O my King, and destroy in me the kingdom of sin; sit on the throne of my heart and reign in me alone, O Thou, my King and Lord.” – St Dmitri of Rostov
Monday (March 13, 2017): Psalm 128; Numbers 21:4-9; Hebrews 3:1-6
Tuesday (March 14, 2017): Psalm 128; Isaiah 65:17-25; Romans 4:6-13
Wednesday (March 15, 2017): Psalm 128; Ezekiel 36:22-32; John 7:53-8:11
Thursday (March 16, 2017): Psalm 95; Exodus 16:1-8; Colossians 1:15-23
Friday (March 17, 2017): Psalm 95; Exodus 16:9-21; Ephesians 2:11-22
Saturday (March 18, 2017): Psalm 95; Exodus 16:27-35; John 4:1-6
Hymn for the Week:
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliv’rer, strong Deliv’rer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st Thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold:
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death and hell’s Destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.
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