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Something to Chew On
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. ~Ezekiel 3:1-3
In one of his famous collects, Thomas Cranmer teaches us to pray, “Blessed Lord, which hast caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning; grant us that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.” In so doing, he calls us to follow in the train of the Psalter’s “Blessed Man,” whose “delight is in the Law of the Lord” and in whose Law He “meditates day and night.”
The Archbishop’s allusion to the Psalm of Psalms, that preface to the whole of Zion’s hymnal, calls our mind to the One who is both the Fountain and Embodiment of Blessing, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. He “walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,” but loves righteousness, hates iniquity, and has been anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. He “standeth not in the way of sinners,” but stands rather in the sinner’s stead. He does not “sit in the seat of the scornful,” but upon the Throne of Grace. He is the Tree of Life, planted by the river of water, who brings forth His fruit in its season. He puts forth His leaves for the healing of the nations. And whatsoever He does shall prosper.
As the One who is the Very Word, He says to us, “This is my body; take, and eat.” And through ingesting the Word, we are made to share in His blessedness, partake of His holiness, and participate in His righteousness.
Behold the portrait of the Word-Saturated Man who takes up the Book of God with the rising sun and holds it in his mind long after the evening shadows come. The Statutes of the Lord are as frontlets to his eyes. He has so ingested the Divine Testimonies that they have been graven upon the tablets of his heart. This is the force of the word “meditate.” Perhaps, it could be rendered even more literally as “ruminates,” as a creature who chews its cud. This man has found in Holy Scripture a banquet. He has tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Like the sweet drippings of honey from the comb, so have been the bounties of the Sacred Page upon the palette of his soul. He eats and is filled, but is never full; his hunger is sated, but never satisfied. Here he finds that he can sup forever, making his soul fat, strengthening his marrow, adding health to his bones. This feast provides more than nourishment, it offers joy and delight— “Blessedness!”
Truly, man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. For these words are “spirit and life.” Man is what he eats. A wise man will eat to live. But the a “blessed man” lives to eat.