May 18, 2010 // Uncategorized

The hungers of life

Most of us think of food in connection with the concept of hunger. There are times when our stomachs growl and all we can seem to think about is supper or a trip to the closest McDonald’s or Taco Bell. My friends often joke that they can tell I am hungry when I start reading all the names the restaurants we pass when we are driving somewhere.
It is true we have all been hungry for food at some time or another but eating does not satisfy all our hungers. We also have spiritual hungers that need to be satisfied if we are to become mature adults.

In the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. Jesus was not talking about food but about satisfying the spiritual hungers or desires that every human being experiences in life.

One deep spiritual hunger or desire of every person is to believe that life is meaningful and has a purpose. It is that deep longing inside that cannot be fully satisfied with material goods, possessions or superficial relationships. How sad for those whose need for meaning in their lives is never met, who never discover God’s love or who try to find happiness by acquiring more and more money or possessions. Even sadder are the people who think life is over at death, or the ones who commit suicide because they believe there is nothing to live for in life.

Another hunger all people long for is community. None of us are meant to be alone. We need others to help us become who God wants us to be. Human growth and maturity happens in an atmosphere of belonging and acceptance. We see this in the Church also.

Contrary to what some individualists may preach, it is impossible to be a Christian alone. That is a contradiction because the very nature of being a Christian is to be part of the community we call Church. When we are baptized, we are baptized into the Body of Christ. A person’s faith cannot grow without the support of other believers. That is why the Church does not baptize infants if the parents are not practicing Catholics. There would be no Christian community to nurture the child’s faith.

Every person also hungers to be listened to and to be really heard. We all have a need to share ourselves with others who will listen. When someone really hears what we say and takes us seriously we are affirmed. When we sense we are not heard we can feel discounted or that our words and even ourselves do not matter.

On the other side, we, too, must learn how to be good listeners so we can help satisfy this hunger of others. It is a skill that is sorely needed in our world today and there are unfortunately too few people who really know how to listen. As a result, many will pay for this service.

Prayer can also help alleviate this hunger to be listened to. Christians believe in a personal God who is involved in each person’s life. We believe God cares about each of us individually and listens to us and knows the desires of our hearts.

Each person also longs to be appreciated and loved. Almost every day we see what happens when people have not experienced real love in their lives. Often they are the ones who get into trouble or cause harm to others. Many have difficulty loving others because they never experienced love in their own lives. Often those deprived of love cease to love themselves and suffer from a low self-esteem.

As Christians who are called to love, we have the responsibility to help satisfy this deep hunger that we all share. More love should be in the world because Christians exist. Christ’s mission was to reveal God’s love and he also gave that command to us. A helpful exercise each night before we sleep is to ask ourselves if there was a little more love in the world that day because of our actions. It is a good way to reflect upon how well we are living our baptismal call.

Lastly, we all hunger for acceptance. It is a wonderful gift when we are really accepted for who we are and not for what we do. We all need to matter to someone. People who are not accepted by others suffer a great deal. Maybe we have had the experience of not being invited to a school party or to a office function or know others who seem alone and always on the fringes — the ones who never seem to “fit in.” Perhaps we could be more mindful of these people and reach out to include them once in awhile in our lives.
At times it is helpful to look at our lives and reflect upon our own hungers that need to be satisfied and discover the deepest longing of our heart right now. Let us go to God and ask for the daily bread we need and how we can share our bread with others.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.