SCRIPTURE REFLECTION FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Hunger touches our lives on many levels. The most basic and obvious is the hunger that affects the human body, our need for food and nourishment. But there are a multitude of other hungers that gnaw away at our human existence.
A few weeks ago I had to have some testing done that required that I fast from midnight on. Now normally I do not have a regular schedule for meals, and rarely eat breakfast. After the evening meal and maybe a snack, I usually do not eat until lunch, and that is often later than Noon. And I generally do not get hungry. But when I cannot eat, because of fasting or whatever, I always get hungry during the night and long for something to "tide me over". I don't know why, but it happens that way.
We all know what being hungry is like, of having the stomach growl or feeling faint or just longing for something to eat. And yet I am keenly aware that those needs do not even begin to compare to the countless people at home and around the world who are literally starving to death. Hunger is devastating.
There are also hungers for truth, and justice, for peace and understanding, for wisdom and compassion. And then there is the ultimate hunger for God. These hungers gnaw away at us and keep us from being fully human and truly God-like.
Our scriptures this weekend speak of the desire to satisfy our hungers, to seek out and to find the source of satisfaction for our needs. We are told to trust - not in ourselves or in others alone - but in a loving God who desires that we be whole, that we be nourished, that we be satisfied. As the Psalm says: "The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs." He will take what we have and will multiply it so that we will be secure and so that we can be a source of blessing for others. He can work miracles with just a little, as long as there is trust in him and a willingness to not only possess but also to share.
I have often said that the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes was to me not a Hollywood experience of bread and fish multiplying in the baskets, but rather that as the Lord blessed the generous gift of the boy who offered what he had for the good of all, it prompted many backpacks and lunch bags that had remained closed to others, to now be opened and shared in love and compassion. There was enough there already, but because of our self concern and maybe selfishness, there were people who were hungry. If we strive to live in a manner worthy of the call we have received, as Paul says in Ephesians, then our hungers and the hungers that touch the world, will be met. It begins, though, with the satisfaction of our hunger for God and for that relationship with him that raises us up and gives us the courage to build a better world.
Lord, you satisfy the hungry heart ... come give to us, O precious Lord, the bread of life to live.