We often lament the popularity and prevalence of junk food in our society. Junk food has become a part of our daily life.
Whenever we get hungry, we readily grab a bag of potato chips and a bottle of softdrinks. Then the grumbling of the stomach stops but, actually, the hunger of the body for the nutrients that it should have is not satisfied. The physical craving for food momentarily ceases as the stomach is filled with junk food. True to its calling, junk food has no nutritional value, yet it allows for a false sense of satisfaction, for the temporary easing of hunger pangs, even if the body is not properly nourished.
Hunger is a positive value; thirst, too. By hunger and thirst, we become aware of our body’s need to be nourished. If we do not feel hunger, then our body will simply wither away because of malnutrition. The same is true with thirst. If we do not feel the need to imbibe liquid, then our body can succumb to dehydration.
So, hunger and thirst are natural signals; the language the body uses to indicate its need for vital nutrients.
Both our readings for today also speak of hunger – spiritual hunger. We hunger for happiness, for peace. In the first reading from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, the king of Israel was hungering for joy, for happiness. So what did he do? He started to claim for himself the authority that could flow from God alone.
He convinced himself that he was as powerful as God. From these acts, he obtained some form of satisfaction. The false authority that the king conferred upon himself was some kind of junk food.
He filled up his own hunger for happiness and joy by deceiving himself. Once bloated with this self-deluding sense of achievement, he promptly forgot about his anger.
The Lord, Jesus speaks of hunger as well, the hunger for inner peace, for joy. And yet, the apostles attempt to assuage that hunger in terms of money and material possessions. The grumbling stops, yes, but the hunger remains. The stomach is filled up, but the body continues to demand nutrition. The sad part is that the body is made to feel that the hunger has left because the feeling of emptiness in the stomach has been removed. You, too, are hungering. You, too, are thirsting. For joy. For inner peace. But how do you confront your hunger for joy, for inner peace?
Some of you choose to do so by continuously immersing yourselves in work; moving from one project to another, from one meeting to the other, being busy, busy, busy. You take so much pride in yourself because you are preoccupied with work; because of your busy-ness, your on the-go lifestyle. You become unmindful of the basic elements of life, such as your family life and faith relationship. And when you do remember the things that really matter, it is too late … you will have become too exhausted, and just about ready to drop dead, to be able to change.
And how do some of you deal with your hunger for inner peace?
To stave off loneliness, you turn on the stereo as soon as you get into your car, so the music can keep you company. Once you reach home, you grab the remote control of your TV so the idiot box can start talking to you. You turn to all these distant, electronic companions to satisfy your hunger for inner peace, for meaningful companionship. And because of the radio and the television and the readily available commercialized forms of leisure, you miss the opportunity for some soul searching, for some deep reflection.
It is good to ask yourself: I am hungry, but, what kind of food am I giving to my soul? Is it the junk food of the noise of the stereo? Is it the junk food of the babble emanating from the boob tube? Is it the junk food of too much work which provides me with the false sense of achieving so many things because I am busy, and I have so many appointments and I have to run so many projects?
My dear brothers and sisters, with junk food – for the body or the soul — the grumbling may stop but this will be only momentarily, because the deeper, real need is still there, even if you are no longer conscious of it.
Let us, then, pray for the grace to be able to choose the right food for our hungers. Let us ask for the grace that will make us eat only what will fully, and truly, satisfy. Let us ask the Lord to give us patience to seek the right food, instead of grabbing what is easily within our reach, but which has no worth, no value.
Let us pray for Him to give us the right food for our souls.
Only Jesus, Always Jesus