Homily – Frankenfood and Frankenchrists

Homily on the Feeding of the Five Thousand

Today we hear how a great multitude of people followed Christ out into the wilderness to hear him preach.  Then, when they got hungry, he fed them, multiplying the meagre amount of bread they had into enough to feed them and have plenty left over.  The people were amazed at this miracle.  I think we need to appreciate this example of Christ’s compassion for the hungry and acted to feed them – this is a compassion and action that we ourselves are called to emulate – but Christ uses this to teach su something deeper: just as we need food for our bodies, even more do we need Christ for our souls.

He even goes so far as to refer to himself as “the bread of life,” a metaphor that becomes real in the Eucharist we celebrate today.  Christ- God is our bread.  We feed on him by doing his work among the needy, by being active in his body, the Church, by studying scripture and the lives of the saints, and through serious prayer and worship (etc.).  This metaphor of God as bread is a powerful one, and today I would like to draw out a warning that is implicit in it.

[A parishioner] recently recommended a book to me, Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D.  In this book, Dr. Davis describes how the nature of wheat has changed over time; a change that has accumulated over thousands of years, but really took off over the last hundred or so.  This change has been so great that the wheat and bread (the words for these are identical in Church Slavonic) we eat now are much different from that our grandparents ate.  And the resemblance between our bread and that eaten during the multiplication of the loaves we hear of today is even less.

This would only be of interest to farmers and archeologists were it not for Dr. Davis’ broader point: he argues that the wheat we eat now is actually dangerous, a sort of hyper-subsidized frankenfood that makes us all bloated and sick.  So something that was given to us as the staff of life has been transformed into a cause of disease.  Now the research is still out on his claims, but it is a coherent and believable argument.

But I am not really talking about the perversion of wheat into a toxin any more that Christ was just feeding people’s bellies.  Just as the world has twisted our food almost beyond recognition, it has twisted the real “Bread of Life” into something new and terrible.  And whereas our food and the industry that creates it have become a curse to our environment and our physical health, so too has this new false “Christ” and the groups that create and market him cursed our world and our spiritual health.

We know that “we are what we eat” and that when we eat junk our bodies suffer.  We are also what we believe, and when we believe lies, then our souls suffer.  Christ did not come into the world so that we and it would suffer, but so that we and it would be saved.  We need to stop eating frankenfood and stop believing in the frankenchrist.

Do not accept the Christ that separates people based on how much money they make, or the color of their skin, or where their grandparents came from, or what their ancestors’ government did to your ancestors.  Instead, accept the Christ that desires to unite all people into a single and holy nation.  Do not believe in the Christ that tells you that you are fine the way you are, that there is no need for you to change, that calls “holy” whatever you yourself consider to be good… instead, accept the Christ who desires that you become perfect as he is perfect, the Christ who is the God of Truth, the Christ who suffered and died so that your repentance would transform you into saints.  Do not let the christ who lives in your heart that teaches that all religions are the same, that Christ is only a name for something deep and transformative; let the real Christ live in your heart, the one who walked this earth two thousand years ago and continues to live on as the head of this Church (etc.).

The Lord Himself said; “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?  (St. Matthew 7:9-11).

Orthodoxy does not give us stones instead of Christ.  Embrace it and be nourished with the food that leads to life everlasting.