Come. Buy and Eat.


The Readings for the Baptism  of Our Lord:

Omnes sitientes, venite ad aquas, et qui non habetis argentum, properate, emite, et comedite: venite, emite absque argento et absque ulla commutatione vinum et lac. Quare appenditis argentum non in panibus, et laborem vestrum non in saturitate? 

All you that thirst, come to the waters: and you that have no money make haste, buy, and eat: come ye, buy wine and milk without money, and without any price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which doth not satisfy you? 

Isaiah says “come and buy” but he adds “buy without money”. Then he adds, “that which is without price.”  Why do we spend money on useless things?

I made a decision moving into the new apartment not to have internet other than my phone here: my phone only works in one corner of the kitchen. It sits there with the wifi tether and it’s easy to get my work done on the computer as needed.

There’s no extra money for this feature (above my phone bill) and it is all kinds of weak. I’d not be able to stream a movie this way, or download anything larger than that graphic above. Everything is as slow as DSL, which, essentially, this is (internet data over phone service with the phone as a modem). Apart from my job, the internet is a huge distraction for me. Mind you: it is my job to be on the internet. It’s been so since Dec of 2010, and for much – but not all – of the previous 12 years as well. Welcome to life in the 21st Century. I am part of the distraction industry. (You’re reading this now, right?)

And we get you to pay for it. Since many of us now use cable for the internet, let’s talk about having 200 plus channels and nothing on. Yet we pay for that too.

Extra clothes. Cabinets filled with extra food (just, you know, cuz it was on sale). Guns, bullets, fur coats, vegan burger mixes, extra folding chairs, 30 black tshirts, 8 pairs of converse in various colors…

Does any of this satisfy? Well, in the short term, yes.

Do we have any savings? (Some of us do.) OK why? And those of us who don’t what do we do with the money we’re not saving? Spend so as not to feel alone, generally speaking.

Come, if you’re thirsty. Come if you’re hungry. Come to the waters. Milk and honey. Bread without cost. Wine of infinite value.

It is said in the Baptism of our Lord, that he descended into the waters and took off his Robe of Glory and clothed himself in our human nature of sins which he nailed to the cross. But the robe of glory he left in the water for us to pick up, each one of us, in our baptism. In his Baptism he restored all of the water to it’s original purity, the water of Life. So it is taught, that in the seasonal blessings of water that take place in the Byzantine Rite Church of the East and West, all the waters of creation are restored to Edenic quality. If you go to Byzantine Parishes this week (on the Gregorian calendar) or on the weekend of the 20th (for those places on the Julian calendar) you’ll see everyone drinking Holy Water, blessed by the priest on this feast.  In the liturgical West we get our houses blessed with Holy Water also done on the feast. We bring the Baptism of our Lord into our homes. The Robe of Glory comes with us where ever we go.

This is something truly worth buying – that can never be bought. All of God’s gifts are given to us freely, even though in receiving them we are changed. 

And what should we do with all the money we have left?

The Fathers say all of our surplus, all of our surfeit, all of our extra, and – God help us – all of our waste is stolen from the poor.

The clothes you do not wear, the shoes you cannot wear, the food you are not eating… this all belongs to the poor.

But preacher man! You say. I have my family to feed and I don’t need to go to the store every day… and all that’s well and good for a culture that didn’t bathe all the time, but I need fresh clothes to go to work!

Therein lies a curious thing, a turning, a twist: we’ve found a way to justify even our hoarding of wealth.

We have to lay it all aside in the water, though: or we’ll never get to grab on to the robe of glory. Best to entrust our goods into the hands of the poor who will treasure them.

God has a use for your money that is not what you intended. 

The things that are actually important are free. What else will you buy today?

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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