We are very briefly introduced to a man, the King of Salem, Melchizedek. This name is a powerful name, about which St Paul declares in the Book of Hebrews, “if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood, what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the Order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the Order of Aaron” (Hebrews 7:11), and further that Jesus Himself “became the author of salvation to all who obey Him, being called by God as High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10).
See, we see this Melchizedek here, bringing bread and wine to Abram, sort of prefiguring the High Priesthood of Christ, who Himself offered up bread and wine at the apostles’ feast and even now uses those same elements to unite us unto Himself, with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. And then Melchizedek blesses Abram. This is vital to remember, for us, as Aaron is a descendant of Levi, who is descended from Abram. Thus, in blessing Abram, he blesses both Levi and Aaron. And it is always the greater who blesses the lesser. We see this fact displayed today in the church, a Priest would never ask for the blessing of his parishoner, neither would a bishop seek the blessing of a priest, but rather always the opposite. Thus, in Melchizedek blessing Levi and Aaron, we see that it is in fact Melchizedek who is the greater and Levi and Aaron who are the lesser.
Lastly, we see a vital lesson from Abram. The king of Sodom offers Abram his cavalry, and yet Abram refuses. He refuses this offering and displays his complete detachment from material wealth. He knew that everything that he already had was a gift from God, and to ask for more would be to say that God had not offered him enough. Further, he shows that it is God whom he loves, not merely the gifts that he had received. He shows that all that he has been given by the Lord was fully sufficient, and he needed not to indebt himself to a man to fulfill himself, for he was already fulfilled in the Lord.
It’s so easy for us to lose sight of this fact in our culture. It’s so tempting to fall prey to this trap of always wanting more, newer, different. It’s easy to become discontent with that which we have been blessed and to always be seeking the “latest and greatest,” the newest phone, the fanciest toy, the most innovative technology. To not be content with merely transportation, but to long for a car that can drive itself, or one that can provide climate control for each individual passenger. It’s almost ingrained in our nature that to be happy we want more, but the moment we get what we want, we sense the emptiness that still resides within us, and thus we seek something else. And so, we turn again to our culture and find that next great thing that promises to fulfill us and to bring us happiness. Especially as we peruse the pages of social media, we fall into this trap of covetousness. We are constantly pounded with advertisements telling us what we need, what we deserve, how much better our lives would be if; and we lose sight of what we have already been given. Or, we start to lay claim to it and place our trust in it. We forget that all in our lives, our lives themselves, are a gift from God, and we begin to believe that we have earned all of it, thus we have a right to it.
And eventually we learn a frightening fact. We find that it is no longer we who possess our possessions, but our possessions which possess us. Rather than thankfulness for what we have, we become despondent for what we don’t. When we lose sight of the fact that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17) we begin to think that we have the right to whatever we desire, and become bitter when we are denied it. As James continues to warn us, “where do wars and fights come from? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and yet cannot obtain” (James 4:1-2).
Abram tithed of all that he had to Melchizedek, and then refused to accept from the king of Sodom? He returned to the priesthood of what he had been given from God, and then refused to accept the spiritual bribery from the government. Do we do that in our time? Do we receive according to the Lord’s blessing and then give back to His priesthood a portion of what we have been given? And then, refuse to accept the money from the civil government knowing that there will be repercussions for this bribery? Do we allow ourselves to become indebted to the world, or do we live within the means that the Lord has given to us, trusting that all that we need is what He has given, and that if it is not enough then it is we, not God, who are in error.
Only once we have overcome our servitude to material things can we truly surrender to God. Any one of us who has anything that we value more than the blessing of the Lord, according to Scripture itself, is not worthy of the Kingdom. As Jesus Himself warns us, “no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24).
May we each seek to find this truth in our hearts. May we break the chains of this materialism and instead focus solely on seeking after the Lord in our lives, as Abram did, living in humble obedience to His commands rather than seeking to make deals with the world and it’s offers of pleasure and leisure. May we repent of our materialism and having cast out the spirit of greed, instead be filled with the spirit of gratitude for all that the Lord has given to us. Let us stop seeking our fulfillment from the world with it’s empty and powerless promises, and instead find our fulfillment in the One in whom it is truly possible.
Christ is in our midst.