Meditation for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 29th, 2018
“They say that one who is satiated cannot understand someone who is hungry; to that, I would add that one hungry person does not understand another hungry person.” – Dostoevsky
Every one of us hungers. Every one of us seeks for something that will nourish us. We hunger for affection, for relationships, for real things.
We are born with a natural instinct that reaches out for sustenance; it is a survival instinct, a drive to live.
We grow up and yet keep seeking something that can nourish us. But sometimes we also face indigestion, or the food we find is expired, and sometimes we don’t get to eat.
This Sunday’s Gospel invites us to contemplate humanity that hungers: ourselves.
There is no distinction between the people we are introduced to: they are all hungry. Perhaps they – and we – do not even realize what is causing the hunger. These people that follow Jesus do not merely want to survive.
When you’re hungry, the first thing you think of is yourself. It can be very difficult to stop and think about the hunger that others feel.
But Jesus asks us to stop and consider just that. What do those before Him hunger for? Jesus asks us to de-center ourselves, to stop being so self-centered. He proposes that we stop focusing on our own hunger.
Philip and Andrew reacted to this proposal by defending themselves with common sense and the logic of the economy. They argue that it’s impossible to feed the others without the necessary resources. In the end, it’s impossible to meet the needs of others.
Jesus asks us to go beyond this logic, to a logic of simply giving. The miracle occurs only when the disciples are willing to abandon the thought of what they possessed. In this text from the Gospel of John, Jesus does not ask that the loaves and the fishes be multiplied or divided, He simply asks that they be given.
Philip and Andrew notice that their hunger is satiated at the very moment that they concern themselves with satiating the hunger of those around them and sharing what they have. Centering our attention only on our needs never helps us resolve our problems.
When life is like a desert without hope, Jesus revives us.
These people that follow Him no longer have to cross through the desert like the people of Israel; they can enjoy the green pastures that Jesus has prepared for them.
The risk, from that point on, as happens in the spiritual life, is to seek after bread alone: consolations that satiate our hunger. Jesus, however, sought a relationship through the sharing of that bread.
If we seek Jesus for consolation alone, He draws away. He asks us to look beyond our hunger. Jesus hungers to be sought after, like the bridegroom in the Song of Songs.
Image credit: https://www.cathopic.com/img/5942/
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