At Easter 227 Augustine heard the Spirit within him say “We become what we eat”. The people heard in a sermon and asked what he meant. He told them.
Jesus thought a lot about his life, his consuming passion for the rule of the Father in all human hearts which everyone had to realise and put into practice – love everybody, exclude nobody. He reckoned he had given folk plenty of signs of what that would look like – healing, serving, including everyone equally, men, women, children, ignoring all boundaries, man-made rules. This had landed him in deep trouble with the religious and political leaders. He knew death was approaching but still he trusted in life and he looked for a way to pass the message on’. They asked: ‘did he find a way?’
Augustine said ‘Yes’ ‘It came to Jesus as an inspiration of the Spirit on the eve of the meal of remembrance of the God of Freedom. He looked at the Passover meal and it dawned on him as an absolute revelation!
He got there early and was gazing at the table with its Passover food, I see it, he said: I am become as bread from wheat and wine from grapes – kneaded, pressed, broken, to be shared as food, to be eaten so my friends can do as I have done – bring strength to the oppressed and joy to those who suffer and grieve.
So, when his friends gathered, the fishermen and the women, his friends, he took bread and wine and said: “I am as bread from crushed wheat and wine from treaded grapes – food to be taken and eaten. Do what I have done, become what I have become – broken for others. In that way you will not only remember me but become me in what you are transformed to do!”
And Augustine said to himself: “Now I see it! If we Christians take and eat and drink in memory of Him – it is so we can ‘become what we eat’ for others. We walk and talk as food! So he said this. He knew what it meant. And some who heard it – understood.
IN OUR DAY
Time passed. The friends of Jesus fell so in love with the celebration of the meal that they forgot it was meant to transform them into being Jesus – in doing what he had done. They even forgot Jesus’s inclusion of everyone. Women felt particularly fed up about the re-appearance of rules which excluded them. The men (mainly) had little time left over from laying the table and celebrating and clearing up, dressing up and deciding who could and who could not preside, that, when the times grew hard and the cries of the sick, the poor and the earth grew ever louder, at first they could not hear them. The walls of the churches were very thick – and the rules were even thicker.
Then a plague came the churches had to close and the people stood round its doors and cried loudly, but slowly the cries of the poor and of the whole earth drowned even their lament and they listened and joined all those who had heard those cries and they started do what Jesus had done.
One day one of them said: “We have become what we ate”! the funny thing was she had never heard of Augustine. “We have become bread for the hungry and wine for the suffering”. And they stopped their cries, stopped huddling round the doors of their churches and could only hear the cries of the poor and the earth and work hard to attend to them.
And the Spirit said much the same to the other worshippers of the different holy Names of God:
And they all began to take away from their worship what it had been trying to tell them for ages.
So the Buddhists came out from the Sangha and brought the compassion of the eightfold path to all those who suffered violence.
The Sikhs went from the Gurdwara and Guru Granth to the Langer, the food kitchen, for all in sewa – service of the world.
The Jews, went from their synagogues and the Torah out to heal the world with the words of blessing of the Creator
The Hindus went from the Temples and the Gita to selfless service of the God in everyone
The Muslims went from the Mosques and the Holy Qur’an, from salat, sawm and hajj to daily zakat for the poor and the suffering earth.
There they met the wisdom peoples, the shamans, the wise women and men of the steppes, the savannah, the great forests and plains, the ice and the fields and mountains and islands who knew that God lived in all the earth and that in their eating of the foods and drinks of the earth they became one with it and through it with the life Divine.
And so the earth was transformed and the peoples with it. And even Augustine was content. Jesus smiled. The people understood.
August 4th, 2020.