In today’s Gospel, Luke records Jesus sharing his sermon on the plain. Jesus is making a distinction: “Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied” and “Woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.” Jesus is addressing that which truly satisfies and fulfills us as human beings.
Each of us ultimately want to be happy. If we follow the trail of any thought we entertain, decision or action we make, and that which we are willing to allow or bring into our presence, we can see at its root in each instance our seeking happiness. The challenge is to discern and determine which are apparent goods and which are true goods. What will truly fulfill us not just in the moment, but will satisfy us for the long term, and in Jesus’ presentation, what will satisfy us for eternity.
If we are full such that our hunger is satisfied, we have little if any desire to seek to satisfy our hunger. If we are constantly satisfying our hunger with those foods, activities and expending of our time in apparent goods, we may not be aware that we are filling ourselves with those things that are not truly satisfying, and when we hunger again, we try to keep filling ourselves with those things. We can eat a whole bag of potato chips, a half gallon of your favorite ice cream, a whole pizza, and find satisfaction in the moment, be full for the moment, but in constantly filling ourselves with such as these, over time our health will suffer, “Woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.”
We can apply this to anything, our entertainment, occupation, how we spend our time, who we spend our time with, what we do with our time. At some point, we become aware that we are filling ourselves up with that which is not fulfilling, that which will continue to leave us empty, because nothing in the material or finite realm will satisfy. We have been created for something more, to be in relationship with God and one another.
The good news is that all of us are hungry for God. Are we are aware that is who we are hungry for? Many times I am thirsty, but go to get something to eat instead. The food does not satisfy because I have discerned poorly that which I truly needed, which was water. We need to resist the temptations of material and finite allurements which may be good in and of themselves, but not so if we place them as foundational to our happiness and fulfillment.
To find true fulfillment, we need to acknowledge our hunger for God, we need to trust in Jesus our Lord, and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. When we do so we will be, “like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).
Jesus is the wellspring that never dries up, and is the living eternal source that fulfills us. JoAnn and I spent a few years even before knowing that she was sick sorting through many of the material items that had been taking up space for years. We were able to let go of those material things, that at one time provided enjoyment, but had just been taking up space. Letting go and emptying is a good practice that helps us to be open to see what we are truly hungry for, which is God’s love. When we open out heart to receive the love of the Holy Spirit, we will be blessed because we can continue to draw from this eternal source of love through the joyful as well as the challenging times.
Photo by Matías Medina, Catholic.com. There is no greater love than these arms held open to receive us time and time again!