Hunger for the Holy Thirst for the Sacred Yearning for God … May we allow ourselves feel our need our growling, gnawing, deep-down need for our true source, for our true center, for our salvation, our completeness, our release, our return home, our true fulfillment … our deep-down need … Our hunger for the Holy is what will lead us to our satisfaction. So feel it – don’t be afraid of it, the passion of it, the animal appetite of it. God is wild. God is elemental, essential. So our hunger for God is wild, elemental, essential. This hunger for God can drive us into wild places, wilderness places. In the wilderness we may feel alone, and exposed, with nothing but our raw yearning to guide us. And that raw yearning will guide us.
“One who does not have God in them cannot feel God’s absence” – that is wisdom from Simone Weil, who was a great Christian thinker and humanitarian, part of the French resistance to fascism. One who does not have God in them cannot feel God’s absence. So if we’re feeling God’s absence, it’s because we know deep-down God’s presence. Our yearning for God can lead us to God. As some people like to say, we have a God-shaped hole, an abyss within us, so We crave the only One, the Eternal One, Who can fulfill this need. This is why St. Augustine prayed to God, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” This restless feeling, this feeling of absence, this is not abstract or philosophical, but it’s in the gut, from the gut, a hunger, a craving. Sometimes this is something we can only feel when we’re alone and very quiet, secret and solitary, the inner heart of who we each are calling out to this Great Mystery we call “God.” And we can also feel our hunger in very social ways, because who we are with God has everything to do with who we are with everyone else and with all of Creation. This is why Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes in Matthew, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Which means, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for the good way, the true way of being with one another Blessed is this hunger and thirst, for it will lead to satisfaction.” This spiritual hunger, moral hunger can have a lot to do with real hunger. And as a matter of fact, the way the Gospel of Luke put the Beatitudes of Jesus, “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Matthew says Blessed are you who are hungry for righteousness. Luke says, Blessed are you who are hungry. Full stop. Literal hunger. Literal poverty. Often enough people go hungry because of injustice. That’s clear in the food crises grinding down people in Yemen, South Sudan, Northern Nigeria, Somalia. This is what war does. This is what global power games does. And what do we have to say about the hunger that gnaws away right in the wealthiest nation on earth?Often enough people go hungry because of injustice. That’s clear in the food crises grinding down people in Yemen, South Sudan, Northern Nigeria, Somalia. This is what war does. This is what global power games does. And what do we have to say about the hunger that gnaws away right in the wealthiest nation on earth?
When the Israelites were out in the wilderness, led by Moses, and they became hungry, ravenous, God provided for them with something they called “Manna.” “Manna” means “What is this?” That is a good question. (For the scientists out there Manna is a sugary secretion from insects that feed off sap from the tamarisk plant. This is a strange and subtle substance that’s a godsend when you’re starving in the desert.) But this Manna question, “What is this?” takes on all of these rich meanings, because this biblical epic in the wilderness is about spiritual wilderness, moral wilderness, as well as physical wilderness. So this is the important question: “What is this that satisfies such hunger?” When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, Moses burned with the hunger for freedom. And as he searched for satisfaction, he was led to God, who then led him to lead his people to freedom. But their true satisfaction was not possible without passing through the wilderness, and feeling profound hunger, and learning what gives true satisfaction. “The bread of God,” Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” The disciples said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
So if you hunger for the Holy, let that hunger drive you. If you thirst for the Sacred, let that thirst drive you. If you yearn for God, let that yearning drive you. For that will lead to true satisfaction. Thanks be to God.