I’m starving. I haven’t eaten since last night. The hunger in me is so deep, and the thirst is so wide ~ I will eat anything I can get my hands on to make the hunger and thirst go away. But there is more than one kind of hunger and thirst. Sometimes there is a hunger for something that food can’t fill and drink can’t quench. And yet many of us continue to try to fill our spiritual hunger with material food. We eat, drink, shop, gamble and other things ~ hoping that our spiritual hunger will be sated, and our spiritual thirst will disappear by indulging (or over-indulging) in the allure of the material world. But the only treatment for spiritual hunger… is spiritual food.
How do you feed a spiritual hunger? The Old Testament tells us that when Moses led the Israelites into the desert, God provided the hungry people with manna, a kind of bread that fell from heaven. The New Testament tells us that Jesus fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. The message is clear. God will provide our daily bread.
This is not to deny that physical hunger can have devastating consequences. Seventeen people die every minute from hunger; thirteen of them are children. Thousands of children on Long Island will go to bed hungry tonight. There was plenty of hunger in Jesus’ time as well. But even in the midst of physical hunger, Jesus calls us to also hunger for the spiritual bread of life that does not perish. It is indeed possible to be spiritually full, even when physically empty.
What are you spiritually hungry for? Do you hunger for emotional and financial security? (Who doesn’t?). Do you hunger for reconciliation with family; for companionship; an end to loneliness? Do you hunger to be remembered by your church and family for the good you have done? Do you thirst for peace and justice in the world? Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” Through the sacrament of communion, the risen bread becomes the risen Christ who nourishes us and gives us what we need to continue on our spiritual path for another day. Through communion, we partake of a common loaf of bread for those who have Christ in common.
May we remain in communion with others and with Christ, praying that all of us will receive the basic elements of what we need to satiate our spiritual hunger and thirst. May God provide us with our daily manna, our daily bread. May Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes. May we offer hands and hearts to help distribute that which God provides, so that there will be enough for us all. With Christ as the cornerstone of our faith and the constant companion of our lives, our stomachs may growl with hunger for the food of the world, but our spirit will forever be filled and fulfilled with the bread of Christ… that endures forever.