FREED FROM DEADLY HUNGER
(Friday, December 15)
“In your womb, O all-blameless Theotokos,
we behold a rich threshing-floor.
You bear the Ear of Grain that grew without being sown;
your Child is the eternal Word:
In a wondrous manner you will give birth to Him in the cave of Bethlehem,
He will lovingly feed every creature with the knowledge of God,//
freeing the human race from deadly/soul-deadening hunger (λιμοῦ ψυχοφθόρου, от глада/голода душетленнаго).” (Vespers Hymn, December 21, 2nd Day of Forefeast of Nativity)
Today let’s reflect on the final part of this Pre-Christmas hymn, my friends, (see Part 1 from yesterday, if you missed it), which talks about a very practical matter: our misdirected kind of “hunger,” – the kind that never satisfies, but ultimately deadens our healthy hunger for communion with God and one another. When we allow our spiritual “hunger” to be misdirected, as did Adam and Eve in the garden, we cease to grow in the way God wanted us to grow, in harmony with Him and one another, and all of creation. When we try to fill that hole in our hearts with God-surrogates like consumerism, unhealthy eating and/or drinking, unhealthy sexual stuff, empty entertainment, lust for power, or other unhealthy pleasures like victimhood, resentments, envy, etc., we end up chasing our tails, having cut ourselves off from the Source of Life and Knowledge. We become malnourished and uncomfortable in our own skins, as did Adam and Eve, and like them we begin to self-isolate and hide from God and one another. See the whole business with the fig-leaves and hiding in the bushes in Genesis 3, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
The Son of God is coming into our world, in the flesh, in order to offer Himself to us, as our nourishment, our new “skin,” and as our new Way forward. As the above-quoted hymn reminds us, “He will lovingly feed every creature with the knowledge of God, freeing the human race from deadly (soul-deadening) hunger.” He lovingly offers us His own “skin” as our new clothing, so that we, immersed or baptized in Him, may become clothed in Him. No longer do we need to be malnourished or uncomfortable in our own skins, nor chase our own tails! This Nativity Fast or Advent, let me let myself be led to “Beth-le-hem” (meaning “the house of bread”), as I (re-)direct my God-given “hunger” toward Him, who comes to break me out of the bondage of self-centered circles.