The heart and the spirit also hunger


Vincent van Gogh visited a museum in Amsterdam in order to see Rembrandt’s famous painting, ‘The Jewish Bride’. Having seen it for a brief time he said “I would give ten years of my life if I could sit before this picture for a fortnight, with nothing but a crust of dry bread for food.”

 Van Gogh said; “My first hunger is not for food, though I have fasted for many years. My desire for painting is so much stronger, that when I receive money for my work I start at once looking for people, places and things, for the right models to paint until all the money is gone.’

This illustrates, that it is not only the body that gets hungry; the heart and the spirit also hunger. We learn early in life that the bread of material things can never quite satisfy the heart of human longing.  

For we are creatures not with one hunger but of many. We hunger for lots of things besides bread.

My son when he was a child lived at Silly Solly’s or Crazy Clarks (The Reject Shop).  He had to have every bit of new electrical junk; “But I need it dad, I need it.”  However when he had the item in his possession he would often realise that he really didn’t need it as badly as he had first thought.

He would bring something home that he simply “could not live without”.  Our son perfected the practice of return and exchange. On many occasions, within an hour of his purchase and after the “need” had worn off he was back at the shop.

Not all of our hungers can be fully satisfied and perhaps for our own good, not all of our hungers should be satisfied.

Some of our cravings can easily destroy us if we feed them.

The more they are fed, the hungrier we get and more demanding the cravings become. We should be aware that such cravings exist within all of us.

If we seek to be complete human beings and nourished as children of God then it is important for us look at the hunger that is healthy and can be satisfied.

We hunger for a feeling of importance. Nobody wants to be a “nobody”. We all want to matter to somebody

We hunger for acceptance. If we are not accepted it becomes almost impossible for us to appreciate ourselves and to understand our true value, our real worth.

We hunger for relationships, friendships. Without them we are at the mercy of cold winds of loneliness. We are like a single tree standing all alone on a hilltop.

We hunger for motivation. Without it we are like a sailing ship stranded on the seas of life, without a wind to drive us, without a purpose, without direction or a destiny.

We hunger for faith – for a set of positive beliefs to guide us.  Without faith we are like the ship without a rudder; a Captain without a chart or compass; a ship without a destination or a quiet harbour in which to anchor.

We hunger for hope.  To be without hope is to be without a reason to live; to be without hope is to exist in a wretched state of despair that sees nothing, thinks of nothing, believes in nothing beyond a very limited horizon.

We hunger for love. If love in its many dimensions is fully satisfied then most of our other cravings would disappear.

However, there is one further hunger, it is a deeper one, and one that underlies all our other hungers. It includes the hunger for love. It is the hunger for God and for the life that is enriched in meaning and immortality.

This hunger for God and for finding ourselves, for discovering our purpose and meaning in God is what saves us from stagnation, hopelessness and despair.  

This hunger for God keeps us moving forward towards the goal of peace and the fulfillment of our human destiny.

In the gospel for this day Jesus offers us the bread of life which satisfies our deepest need.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, physiological need (air, food, water) are the first level of human/animal need and yet every level of need speaks to us of the totality which is life.

The bread of life that Jesus offers to us will not be found in the supermarket.  The “Reject Shop” is not the place where you will find acceptance, relationships, faith, hope, love, meaning, purpose and peace

It was Jesus responding to the crowds looking for hope and salvation who said; “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life”. (John 6:27)

It was Jesus, in his time of testing in the Wilderness in Matthew chapter four who quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 and said “Man shall not live by bread alone”?  (Matthew 4:4)

It is Jesus, who calls us to share his life, his death and his resurrection and who offers us the bread that satisfies.

To share in the life of Christ is to understand everything of what it means – to be fully human.

To share in the life of Christ is to ingest the “bread of life” which satisfies our deepest needs and hunger.

Jesus gave us this promise that: ‘Whoever eats the bread that I give, they will live forever.‘  (John 6:51)                                        

In this month of August our Parish Council has decided that we should run with the theme of Stewardship as it relates to our Mission and Ministry.

I would like to invite you this Sunday and in the following weeks to reflect and to think about what it means to share in the life of Christ and how this might play out in terms of your own Christian Stewardship.         AMEN

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