4th Sunday of Lent 26.3.17 Our daily bread
The fact that we have bodies makes life hard for us.
Our bodies give us a lot of pain and anxiety, and they leave us very vulnerable. They have to be fed and clothed, and generally maintained.
There must be a good reason for it all, because this is how God has created us, and we cannot improve on His plans.
One consolation is that we look forward eventually to having glorified bodies, never hungry or sick, able to move at the speed of light, and many other attractions
But what to do about now, with all our pains, and worries?
One thing God must have had in mind, was to make sure we would be aware of our dependence on Him.
The prayer He taught us contains a plea for our daily bread. It is part of learning to love Him, for which purpose we were created.
The daily recurring needs of the body remind us of our dependence, and force us to turn to Him for help; something we might not do if we did not feel the need.
It is not just food, but every need, physical and spiritual, which is encompassed in that prayer for daily bread.
We can ask for all that we need, all at once, understanding that some needs are more important than others.
God wants us to ask. He wants us to remember to thank Him; and to try to get the asking in perspective, so that we concede to Him the right to refuse or modify our requests.
God might withhold certain things for good reasons. We can trust that He is aiming at the greatest happiness possible for us.
We see that He is leading us beyond the merely physical to a spiritual understanding, while not forgetting the physical.
And then there is the Eucharist itself, the ultimate food, not meant for physical hunger but for the whole person, the whole process of salvation, with all the richness that goes with that.
We are asked to seek this special food. Many reject it because they do not see that it does them any good.
They are thinking probably too much at the merely physical level. The Eucharist feeds a deeper hunger, and transforms a person in subtle ways.
The impatient will not give it time to work. They want instant gratification, and the Eucharist is aimed at a much longer time and scope.
God is taking us into an unexplored world, the world of total trust in Him, and total cooperation with His will.
To hunger for Him, to search Him out, is the highest level of spiritual growth.
Everyone needs Him; not everyone knows it.
Those who stop at the needs of the body are not seeing the whole story.
A whole life can be built around the body. There is not just eating, but vanity of appearance, seeking sexual pleasure, excessive quest for fitness – all of which can make the body into a false god.
Any who do this will lead a distorted life, a life of sin and darkness - either obviously so, such as a drug addict; or less obviously, a ‘respectable’ person piling up riches but neglecting the soul.
What we should do, is attend to the body, within reason, but realize that some sacrifices are necessary for the good of the soul, and preparation for eternal life.
Voluntary penance can be very helpful, as it helps us to see the higher needs we have.
God has foreseen all our difficulties, and patiently helps us find our way into the light.
We learn as we go, all the time.
May the Lord give us our daily bread, in all its forms, making us truly at one with Him, body and soul.