“You are what you eat.” So goes the saying that has at times served as a means to get people to have better diets, and a way for philosophers to reduce the human person to merely a thinking animal, and even to theologians trying to have folks consider the profound teaches of the Eucharist.
For the vast amount of history, before the modern industrial revolution, the search for food and “daily bread” was at the top of the daily priorities of the vast amount of humans on the planet. In fact, for most of human history, eating every day and eating well was always reserved for the very rich and powerful.
However, I’d like to draw out the eternal aspects and insights of that daily life we all lead. And hunger is at the very heart of true Orthodox theology. Fr. Alexander Schmemann, of blessed memory, wrote a little book that each of you should have and regularly read. It is “For The Life of the World.” Listen to what Fr. Alexander writes in chapter one of this little jewel of a book: “In the biblical story of creation man is presented, first of all, as a hungry being, and the whole world as his food.” So, what you hunger for reveals your true desire!
Look at today’s Gospel Lesson in Luke 12:42-48:
The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.”
So, the faithful steward displays his faithfulness by doing (living) faithfully. But if that steward has no patience, if he tries to satisfy his hunger before the Master gives him his portion of food “at the proper time,” this steward will satisfy his hunger by consuming others, by indulging his hunger, and eventually becoming a slave to his hungers instead of a “faithful steward.”
What a powerful word picture of foolish choices in trying to satisfy ourselves instead of faithfully allowing the wisdom of God to be the “food” that satisfies the real hunger of our hearts. And then the Lord adds this phrase that illumines us even further. He says “to whom much is given, of him will much be required.” The treasures, plenty, both physical and spiritual, that we moderns enjoy means we have the greater responsibility to use these treasures, these advantages well. And yet, can any of us deny that the very struggle of being faithful, of avoiding being ruled by our passions, has been helped with all this wealth? Not at all. All this plenty has revealed is we humans are no different than the millions who have come before us. We need mercy and grace to ever overcome the temptation to satisfy our hungers in an unfaithful way.
Today, if you are ever going to tame the hungers that so often disrupt the joy of your life, you are going to have to encounter True Love. You are going to have to, on a daily basis, enter into a loving relationship with Him Who is Love Himself. This love is going to have to escape the easily dismissed rhetoric of religion and enter into the uncomfortable and challenging reality of daily confrontation with Him Who is Love. You are going to have to leave your comfort zone and dare to love God FIRST and BEST. You are going to have to be Orthodox on Purpose!