Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time B
A rich man came across a poor, hungry beggar.
The rich man asked, “Do you smoke?
I could give you some cigarettes.”
But the beggar replied, “No, I don't smoke.
I’m just want food.”
Then the rich man asked, “Well, do you drink?
I could give you.”
But the beggar responded, “No, I don't drink.
I’m just looking for something to eat.”
Finally the rich man asked, “Do you gamble?
I could give you some good tips
on the races this weekend.”
The beggar again replied, “No.
I’m just hungry and need some food.”
So the rich man said,
“In that case, I’d better take you to my home.”
He loaded the beggar into his fancy car,
drove him to his swanky house,
and there introduced him to his wife.
She immediately asked,
“What are you planning to do with this man?
Are you going to invite him to live with us,
to eat our food and wear our clothes?”
“Heavens, no!” the rich man replied.
“I just wanted to show you what becomes of a man
who doesn’t smoke, drink, or gamble.”
Rich or poor,
on the seashore or in the desert,
we all get hungry.
We have physical appetites for food and drink, for sure.
But we also have longings and desires
for affection and intimacy, for security and belonging,
to understand and to possess.
We all know what happens
when you don’t respond to bodily hungers
with a regular, balanced diet:
you settle for the junk food most quickly and easily available.
Your health suffers for it…
…and—no matter how much of it you eat—
you still can’t seem to shake the hunger.
So, too, with the appetites of mind and soul.
How often we settle for junk!
And we all know, my friends,
that smoking, drinking, and gambling
are just the tip of the iceberg.
St. John Vianney—whose feast was celebrated yesterday—
once put it this way:
Without the Holy Eucharist
there would be no happiness in this world;
life would be insupportable.
When we receive Holy Communion,
we receive our joy and our happiness.
The good God,
wishing to give himself to us in the sacrament of his love,
gave us a vast and great desire,
which he alone can satisfy.
Where do you go when you’re hungry—really hungry?
Is there junk food you’ve settled for?
Do you truly recognize the one and only place
where your deepest appetites can be fed?
Are you ready and willing—if necessary—to change your diet?
As Jesus instructed the crowds
miraculously filled by five loaves and two fish,
“Do not work for food that perishes,
but for the food that endures to eternal life.”
May our partaking in the true Bread from heaven
only serve to deepen our hunger
for him alone who can satisfy it.