All These Things Because None of Them

Lent 2014: Readings from Augustine

The individual things that are presented to our various senses delight them individually. Sound does not delight our sight, nor color our hearing. To our hearts, however, God is light and sound and odor and food, and he is all these things because he is none of them, and he is none of them because he is the creator of all of them. Light to our hearts is he to whom we say, “In your light we shall see light” (Ps 35:10). Sound to our hearts is he to whom we say, “You will give my hearing exultation and gladness” (Ps 50:10). He is odor to our hearts of which it is said, “We are Christ’s good odor” (2 Cor 2:15). If you seek food because you are fasting, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Mt 5:6), and it was of our Lord Jesus Christ that it was said that “he became for us righteousness and wisdom” (1 Cor 1:30). See, the banquet has been prepared: our righteousness is Christ, and he never fails us. He is not prepared for us by cooks and he doesn’t have to be brought from lands across the sea like a foreign apple. He is the food that everyone tastes who has a healthy mouth. He is our inward self’s food. He said as much himself, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51). He is the food that refreshes and never fails; the food that is taken in but never depleted; he is the food that fills the hungry and still remains whole. When you leave here for your own tables, you will not be eating any such thing. Because you have gathered here for this banquet, however, eat well, and when you leave, digest it well. A person eats well and digests poorly who hears the word of God and does not do it; he hasn’t taken in useful good but suffers from indigestion. (Sermon 28, 2; PL 38, 183)

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About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.