Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hunger. Thirst. Good News. (2015-08-02)

2 August 2015
18th Sunday, Year B
Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Psalm 78
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Matthew 6:24-35
[__01__]     Hunger. Thirst.

Where does our hunger, our thirst lead us?

Is it not true that the sensations of hunger, of thirst will cause MOTION and EMOTION, movement in body and mind.

And … in the soul and spirit.

In the Gospel, this Sunday, we read that a crowd had been following Jesus – moving – geographically because earlier they had been fed, nourished.

In last Sunday’s Gospel reading from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, Jesus had fed the crowd of 5,000 plus through the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
[__02__]      Where does our hunger, our thirst lead us?

Is this hunger = Good News?
Is hunger good news?

Is it encouraging in any way … to be hungry?

Jesus is not simply pushing  his disciples – or you and me – into a HUNGER GAME – so that God can give a final exam, a grade, a Grade-Point-Average of “grace” and decide who is worthy of salvation. 

Nevertheless, have we NOT been taught, instructed, even encouraged to be hungry, to be thirsty …. with some  intentionality.

In this case, “hunger” does not simply mean a “hunger” for success and  prosperity, but this is one example of how we experience hunger as something positive.

As children, for example, while our parents were feeding us and clothing us…in our family, I experienced a push – at times – from my parents that we would always remain hungry, that we would work hard.

Yes, that type of hunger is good news.  A hunger for what we cannot yet see or taste or experience.  

[__03__]      St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians writes that he is not moved by physical hunger or physical thirst alone.

While Paul knew hunger and thirst and other sensations, Paul teaches that we are called to see Jesus – and his teaching and his life – and the Holy Eucharist as our true food and drink …and as we need from the inside-out …

Paul wrote:
I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.  I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:12-13) …or as we also read … “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

[__04__]       Is hunger = good news?

Certainly hunger is materially profitable and productive for those with something to give, with something to offer.

To Jesus – last Sunday, the hunger (the desire) of the crowd was Good News. Because they were hungry, they also wanted to receive from the abundance of the miracle.  And, they began to follow him around.

In this little local-primary appearance in the New Hampshire of the Holy Land, the popularity of our Savior rises. He has offered something to those in need.

Hunger is good news.

And, have we not, at times, also attached ourselves to those with something to offer, something to give?

Hunger is good news.

[__04.01__]       Hunger in the home will bring us to the table. Hunger is good news for the family.

[__04.02__]        Hunger on the sidewalk or the street will bring us inside the restaurant. Hunger is good news for business.

[__04.03__]       Hunger for knowledge will motivate us to do our academic homework. Hunger is good news for intelligence.

[__04.04__]       Hunger for renewal and beauty will motivate us to do summer or spring cleaning. Hunger is good news for beauty, for visual appearance.

[__05__]      It is, of course, natural for us to recognize that we have many desires, many hungers – natural desires in the body and mind.

It is, of course, natural for us to recognize that we have a desire for love, for affection, for intimacy, for companionship.

These are also natural human desires.  What our Catholic faith teaches is, also, about the connection between our love for others and our responsibility toward others.  Pope Saint John Paul II has spoken of this in his Theology of the Body… a theology that is not purely about the physical satisfaction but also about spiritual peace and stability.

And, in this regard, we are called to recognize that God has created man and woman for this mutual balance, stability …and with desire for each other and with respect for each other – each as a person.

This is the sacrament of Christiam matrimony which includes the desire for the spouses to be united, to be together, a desire which also brings new life and love into the world.

And, for this reason, our Catholic faith promotes the importance of love for the total person – physical and spiritual and also regards as sinful and conditions or methods that do not allow life or love to flourish between the spouses.

This could include, for example, a pre-condition or an unreasonable expectation… or an unwillingness to forgive the other person for his or her faults.

Certainly, we have expectations about the ways in which other people – including one’s spouse – could or should act. Nevertheless, these expectations sometimes become conditions by which love is hindered …and which our desire for the other person’s welfare decreases.

In a similar way, our Catholic faith regards as sinful technologies, pharmaceuticals, contraceptives which do not permit life to flourish to or to start with natural conception.
For from every marriage, at every age, comes for new life, new life.

In marriage, husband and wife are called to help each other, to appeal to the other, to be compassionate toward other… and to do so not only for the good of the marriage but for the whole world.

Hunger, desire is good news.

As Christians, we are called to remember that Jesus does not simply feed us physically.

I think that we have all had experiences in life where we suffered a deficiency, a lack, made a sacrifice but were somehow fulfilled by this, thus experiencing what Paul described:

In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of being hungry.” (Philippians 4:__)

__05(a)__]   Jesus invites us to accept hunger, to accept difficulty,  so that we will not rely purely on the things we can physically possess or consume or touch.

For example, in the Gospel we read on Ash Wednesday, we read that we are called to fast  -- or to be hungry – but not to announce our hunger or our fasting to others in any boastful way.

Jesus says, “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father [to God] who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

[__06__]      Hunger is good news, not because we can overcome it … or outplay the  competition (the HUNGER GAME) … but rather so that we can be aware of our deeper desires.

[__06__]   This is his message to those by whom he is followed in the Gospel this Sunday.

He cautioned  them in their desire to satisfy only the hunger manifested in flesh and blood.

These members of the crowd had been pursuing Jesus for a while.  Their pursuit began at the beginning of this same chapter,  Chapter 6, of the Gospel Book of John. They were impressed very much at our Savior’s multiplication of the loaves, the miraculous feeding of the crowd of 5,000 plus.

“Hungry again?” our Lord and  Savior says in a simultaneous offer to help them…. While also resisting these guests who seem (anxious for)  (interested in) a free meal.

Jesus challenges them,
You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”  (John 6:26-27)

[__07__]  Jesus cautions them – and you and me – about the danger of  immediate fulfillment of our material desires.

Or, at least the pursuit only this material fulfillment.

[__08__]  Have we not been taught this lesson – in  other examples – that true fulfillment – true happiness is not based on the satisfaction of our desires but rather on the development of our relationships?

We are not born into this world to CONSUME, or to be CONSUMED, but rather to GIVE ourselves.

It is also Good News to be aware of the hunger or emptiness that may exist in another person and to be aware of how our presence may not physically or immediately change him or her… but nevertheless be a gift of Communion, of gift of our Holy Communion to each other, the Body of Christ. AMEN.

It is good news to be hungry.

[__12__]     This Gospel is a conversation between Jesus and  his disciples about the Bread of Life, the true Bread of Life.
In this conversation, our Lord is asking us to remain around him, to remain with him, to build a relationship with him.

We also pursue him, try to find him, not simply so that he will fulfill our every wish, but rather that we will believe in him as a person, as our personal Savior, and the one who helps us to understand that his words are our nourishment, his wisdom is our food.

And, his sacrifice is our fulfillment.

If we can give back with our own attention to his words, our own attentiveness at the table and with our own generous self-sacrifice, we will also be following him, imitating him.

We may also be hungry for  more. Hunger  is good news.

By seeking  him, we may not be served  what we had expected but we will understand better where does our our true hunger, our true thirst lead us?  [__13__]       [__fin__]