July 24, 2010 – I’m Hungry!

I hope that somehow, someway you are staying cool during our heat wave.  While I have been battling health problems I got out of my regular blogging routine, so this is the first time in many months that I have managed to crank out a blog in consecutive weeks.  Hopefully as I continue to improve you will once again get a regular dose of useless information, random drivel and backward observations.

Even though I haven’t been blogging regularly, it is still a struggle to find worthy subject matter to talk about.  I have written 90 something blogs now and inspiration seems to become more and more elusive.  But this week I have to thank my cousin for a couple of reasons.  Number one, he was kind enough to invite me to his house last night to enjoy delicious fried blue gill that his son caught, and number two, little did he know that he would provide the inspiration for this week’s blog.  In my humble opinion there are few better food items than well prepared fried fish, especially when you haven”t had it for a while.  I think this is true of a lot of food items – they taste even better when you haven’t had them for a while and you have a real hunger for them.

Hunger is a very powerful sensation.  I have experienced hunger as I have tried to eat a better diet the last few months.  I have found that there are some things that I have not missed so much, but other things that I still have a powerful hunger for no matter how much time goes by.  For instance, I have not missed eating sweets or McDonald’s hamburgers.  But no matter how hard I try, or what kind of substitutes I try, I still have a deep hunger for Doritos.  Oh sure, there are the baked ones, but they are nothing like the true crunch and zip of the real thing.  When I go to the grocery store, I alert the personnel after I go down the chip aisle so they can mop up the druel.

Obviously my hunger does not compare to the hunger experienced by many in our world.  The farmers who produce our food provide enough to feed our world population twice over, yet there are millions and millions who do not get basic nutrition.  Even in our own country, the land of plenty, there are almost 40 million people living in poverty.  Even in our own community, the Chester Area Christian Food Pantry usually helps over 500 people per month.  Hunger is everywhere and is a problem that despite the best efforts of many people, continues to be a crisis.

The hunger for food is of course only one type of hunger.  We can hunger for many things.  Jesus realized this numerous times.  For instance, when He gave us the 8 beatitudes, one of them was “blessed are they who hunger for justice, for they shall have their fill.”  We are a people who hunger not only physically but also spiritually.  It is fitting then that when we come to Mass the focal point is the Eucharist, the sharing of a meal, the ultimate means to satisfy our physical and spiritual hunger.

I can remember hearing 2 interesting perspectives on the Eucharist.  One person in a small faith group that I participated in years ago said that she didn’t feel worthy to receive the Eucharist when she was experiencing doubts about God or didn’t feel that she had been living true to God’s word.  My view is that it is in times as these that we need the Eucharist more than ever.  In fact, just prior to receiving Jesus’ body and blood, we recite the words “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  I continually turn to the example of the Last Supper, when even though Jesus knew that his betrayer was in his midst, he still allowed Judas to participate in the meal.  This is why I take some exception when some bishops say that they would refuse Communion to politicians who take stances that go against the church’s wishes, such as those who are pro-choice.  I do not agree with their stance, but if they truly believe that what they are receiving is Jesus’ body and blood, and if they truly hunger for it, couldn’t this perhaps provide the impetus to help them realize the sacredness of all life?

As I think about the empty spots in the pews at our Masses and all of the people that I know who could be filling them, I wonder if they do not have a strong spiritual hunger or if they simply aren’t realizing that this hunger is present.  How can we make them realize that this hunger can be satisfied?  A priest told me one time that maybe we shouldn’t offer the Eucharist on a daily or even a weekly basis.  If it were offered  less frequently, perhaps people would hunger for it more.  As I though about this, I had to disagree because hunger is not an on again/offagain type of feeling.  It is something we struggle with constantly if it is not satisfied.  At the height of my illness when I was unable to attend church, I certainly felt that something was missing, a feeling that something was not being satisfied, and I’m sure it was the inability to receive the Eucharist that was such a constant in my life to that point.

We had a successful mission last September in part due to the fact that we made a concerted effort to invite people.  If we continue to invite people to Mass, especially those who have not participated for a while, maybe they would realize the hunger within them that is not being satisfied, and take that step back to the table of plenty.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hungry!  Time for a snack (a fat-free one of course).  Peace.

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