Fri, 15 February 2019
(Gn.3:9-24; Ps.90:1-6,12-13; Mk.8:1-10)
“You are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
Because of the fall we come face-to-face with this truth: our own mortality, our own humility, that we are but a creature made from the dust of the earth. And this truth we must understand. Because we have “eaten from the tree of which [God] had forbidden [us] to eat,” “thorns and thistles” the earth brings forth for us and “by the sweat of [our] face shall [we] get bread to eat,” until we learn our place – for our own sakes – before our Creator, or “until we return to the ground, from which we were taken.”
“Cursed be the ground because of you!” the Lord God exclaims to the man. The womb of the woman, like the earth for man, shall bring her pain in bearing children, in bearing her fruit… and the serpent shall eat dust “all the days of [his] life.” If now we should eat of the tree of life, to what state would we be condemned! How shall we be saved from such a fate, wherein our own flesh brings upon us such pangs – how shall we escape ourselves? And how shall we look upon God again?
“Teach us to number our days aright,” our psalmist cries, “that we may gain wisdom of heart.” And what is he asking but that we realize, as God would teach us, that though He is “from everlasting to everlasting,” that though for Him “a thousand years are as… a watch of the night,” we are “like the changing grass, which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.” So passing is our life. This indeed we must comprehend, for this is truth, and failing to understand it we shall not find answer to our prayer: “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” But knowing our limitations before our God, He comes quickly to remedy our weakness.
See how Jesus looks upon those who “were without anything to eat,” those whose bodies fainted before His eyes. Listen to the thought of His heart: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd. By now they have been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way. Some of them have come a great distance.” Oh how the Lord has pity on us! Oh how He knows our plight – that we are but fading grass, having been far removed from His sight! And how He wills to feed us, to nourish those who come to Him, who share the “three days” of His trial. For though they toiled not, “the people in the crowd ate their fill” in the most peaceful of fields. The Lord had come to save them! And now eternal life is upon them.
Brothers and sisters, we need no longer fear our dying flesh, for the Lord feeds us with Bread that does not fail, that brings life eternal to the lowly body that eats it. And so, no longer are we dust alone, though to dust our body may return. But we become eternal souls in the hand of our Savior, eating from the tree of life He is. In all humility let us receive His gift, His saving presence among us. And to God we shall return, and now forever.
O LORD, feed us with the Bread of life
that we might lie in the dust no more.
YHWH, have pity on our weakness, for our flesh is like the changing grass – we do but wilt and fade. Weak in body and in spirit we find ourselves separated from you by our sins, by our disobedience to your command. You care only for our good; let us come to you and remain with you till you take pity on our souls.
You give us food to eat, O LORD, even the body of your only Son. Let us not prefer the food of this world or that which the devil offers. If our eyes are opened unto death, if we but see our weakness, our nakedness before you, without realizing your eternal love… to what end shall we come? We shall but return to dust.
Your punishments are good, LORD; your chastisements are what heal our tortured souls. Let our suffering be joined to Jesus’ own, that we shall hunger for you alone, and in our humility you will be quick to feed us and return us to your fold.