#MyMassTakeaway: Physical and Spiritual Hungers: Jesus wants to meet them all. Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Find the Mass Readings here: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 12, 2018
Depression: Starving Myself of All My Needs
I set dinner out on a table surrounded by playful screams and dirt-caked hands.
The noise couldn’t cut the fog engulfing my brain. I added my own shouting to the cacophony: “I can’t do this! I just can’t!”
Every day of my encounter with depression was a mountain to be climbed.
All the bumps of daily life were insurmountable obstacles. By the time I slogged through the day and made it to dinner time, I lost my will to eat. No matter how delicious (or basic) the meal before me, my appetite was gone. I didn’t want to eat, and I didn’t want to be with people.
No matter how much sleep I got, it was never enough. I would wake up in the morning, bone-weary. I fought to keep my eyes open all day long. And ironically, when night-time rolled around, my eyes would suddenly refuse to shut.
I hear you, Elijah. “This is enough, O Lord!”
Elijah’s cry to God brings me right back to those difficult days. It reminds me of how overwhelming life felt to me. How drained I was by even the smallest tasks. How inadequate I felt.
I didn’t want to move. Didn’t want to face the day. Didn’t even want to eat.
Just let me escape it all.
Give me sleep.
Feeding Your Physical and Spiritual Hungers
Today’s readings remind me of all the necessities of life. Not just for staying alive, but for being fully alive. Full of life and joy, and fully present in the moment.
We have physical and spiritual hungers that need to be fed.
Sleep is a beautiful thing: the sweet escape, the healing rest. It helps us regain our energy. It rejuvenates us and resets our brains. But sleep alone isn’t enough.
We need to eat.
And not just junk food and sweets and caffeine that give us temporary bursts of energy. We need to eat healthy foods. Things that give us sustained energy. I’ve talked to so many people with widely varied diets – all tailored to meet their specific needs, their health challenges, their lifestyles. Sadly, none of these diets were based on Oreos and ice cream.
In the first reading, God gives Elijah food that will sustain him on his long journey.
All the water. I never drink enough water, I love me some sweet tea and lemonade. But water is important – can’t have life without it!
The Second Reading calls out our need for human companionship: “Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another… and live in love.”
We can foster friendships by being compassionate – sharing in each other’s passions and emotions. We can celebrate what we have in common, drawing on the things that bind us together.
We can be forgiving by overlooking each other’s faults and differences. Nitpicking at each other doesn’t give us life, it tears us down.
Friendships are important for a life fully lived.
My husband and my closest friend help maintain my sanity through the challenges life throws my way. When I was suffering most from depression, I pushed people away. I drew into myself, shut out my friends and family, and sequestered myself in a child’s world. I surrendered myself to childish emotional outbursts and adult tantrums.
It was unhealthy.
It wasn’t a life fully lived. Now I know that it’s not selfish to seek companionship or devote time to my friendships. Relationships are an important part of God’s plan for us. It’s a hunger we can’t ignore.
We’re Hungry for God
The levels of hunger are ascending through the readings.
There are the basic physical needs to keep our bodies alive. On top of that, the emotional and mental needs we have: friendships and a social life.
But even that doesn’t cut it. Companionship doesn’t fulfill us.
We see hints of this in the Gospel. The Jews, Jesus’ own people, thought they knew Him. They knew His mom and dad by name. They watched Him grow up. They felt an over-familiarity with Jesus that they couldn’t get past.
God’s plan for Jesus’ life wasn’t apparent to them.
They couldn’t see or accept His purpose in this world. The familiar bounds of their friendship attempted to limit Jesus’ calling in life. Jesus came down from heaven for more than being the neighborhood motivational speaker, but they couldn’t even come to grips with the “came down from heaven” part.
Friendship and familiarity weren’t enough for Jesus. And they’re not enough for us either. What are we really hungry for?
Finally, the Gospel reveals our biggest need of all: God.
Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Even more than we need food and friends, we need God. All our other hungers point to the biggest hunger of all: God, Himself.
Our souls will never be at rest until we find Him. Our lives will never be full until they’re filled with Him. Without, Jesus, we will always be hungry.
“I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus says.
He satisfies the ultimate hungers in our life. He fills the emptiness within us.
Jesus alone can make us whole. Jesus alone can make us fully alive. He is the only thing that will satisfy.
The Eucharist Feeds Us
And to drive the point home, He gives us Himself in the form of food. When we receive the Eucharist at Mass, we really receive Jesus: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
We are fed by His Life.
This Heavenly Food reminds us that hunger is real. Our hunger for sleep, food, and water. Our hunger for friendship and understanding. And most of all, our hunger for God.
We need to feed all those hungers to be fully alive. There’s no picking and choosing. We can’t eat our way to spiritual fulfillment. We can’t pray ourselves through starvation or sleep deprivation any more than I could pray my way out of depression (though I admit I tried).
The Eucharist, as food, reminds us to meet our needs.
When I was in counseling, we started from the bottom up. Basic needs came first. My doctor instructed me to cut sugar and caffeine from my diet, and focus on eating healthy foods.
My counselor helped me build routines that promoted sleep and exercise. We moved forward with rebuilding the connections that I had tried to sever and making time to care for my emotional and mental well-being.
Live a Full Life
And finally, when the fog lifted from my mind, I was able to embrace the vocation God has given me.
Like Elijah in the first reading, I felt nourished to once again live my daily life through the Sacraments of the Church. I had the energy to get to Adoration and Mass (more than on Sundays!). I was “strengthened by that food” to continue my journey towards God.
And, while life isn’t perfect, it is full.
It’s full of food and sleep, friends and grace. I’m being fed on every level. Jesus is the Bread of Life, and he wants all our needs to be met.
Run to Him whenever you’re hungry.
Featured Five Takeaways:
This post is home for the #MyMassTakeaway linkup on Instagram. Head on over there for more reflections on today’s readings.
Check out these 5 featured posts for today:
Sundays are for eating and taking naps?
As if there weren’t already enough reasons to love Amy from Catholic Pilgrim, today she delves into deep theological thoughts based on…
Go to Communion, replenish those life hearts.
Jen and Logan reflect on the Second Reading today.
I love how they encourage us to extend God’s mercy to each other in marriage, and they aren’t afraid to proclaim the awesomeness of confession.
I love Ingrid’s reflection today.
She points out the miraculous and astounding Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. It’s not just flesh, she calls it the reality of Jesus.
“May we hunger and thirst for him… the food that truly nourishes.”
Mary draws some great connections between the Old and New Testaments.
She makes a great case for daily Mass!
I want to know your Mass Takeaway too! Comment with your thoughts on the readings, your pastor’s homily, or anything that struck you during your time at Mass.
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