My first thought when I think of the word hunger is to get something to eat. Food and hunger just seem to go together. 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 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 “things.” Even sadder are those who think life ends at death, or the ones who despair and end their lives because they believe there is nothing to live for.
Another hunger we have is for community. None of us is meant to be alone. We need the help of others to become the person God wants us to be. Human growth and maturity happen in an atmosphere of belonging and acceptance. We also see this in the Church. We live our Christianity within the context of community. Christians belong to 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 when the parents are not practicing Catholics because there would be no Christian community to nurture the child’s faith.
Every person also hungers to be listened to and really heard. 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 in 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 also can 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. He listens to us and knows the desires of our hearts.
Each of us 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 low self-esteem.
As Christians who are called to love, we have the responsibility to help satisfy this deep hunger that we all share. Christ revealed God’s love and gave us that same mission. The world should be a more loving place because of the way Christians live. A helpful daily exercise is to ask yourself if there was a little more love in the world that day because of you.
Lastly, we hunger for acceptance. It is wonderful to be accepted for who we are, not for what we do. We all need to matter and be loved by someone. Those who are not ever accepted by others suffer a great deal. Maybe you have had the experience of not being invited to a school party or to an office function or know others who seem alone and always on the fringe. Perhaps you could be more mindful of these people and think about including them in your social life.
I invite you to reflect on your greatest hunger right now and ask the Lord to satisfy it.