Wednesday, 1st Week of Advent
Hunger and thirst are some of the indispensable aspects of human life. They are some of the basic human needs that has to be satiated for our very existence. However, many of us, consider them as our vulnerability, an inadequacy, a curse that needs to be reconciled with, if not dealt with. That might be a very pessimistic view of perceiving realities of life.
Not that I negate the sufferings of those who are deprived of food and potable water, for I sincerely wish not one should starve or parch for water – ever in life. Hope you’ve noticed the distinction I’ve made. Surely, there is a sea of difference between hunger and starvation, between thirst and being parched for water.
Hunger and thirst is something which is universal. Every mortal is subjected to it. Whosoever one might be, none is exempted from it. Though they don’t starve or parch for water, even the richest on the planet experience hunger and thirst. They could not do away with food or water, no matter how obsessed they are with their state of affairs or how lofty their priorities are. Even a hermit or an ascetic could not fast for life, not matter how noble or virtuous their intentions are, not without risking their lives. Hunger and thirst are bodily signals that trigger in us a drive to consume food and water that is essential for one’s biological sustenance. It is thus a blessing in disguise. Moreover, it reminds us of our mortal transient nature, our reliance on divine providence and of our mutual dependence between us brethren. Of the two hands that we have, one is to fend for ourselves and the other is to serve our fellow being.
The gospel of the day narrates how Jesus felt compassionate for the crowd who thronged to him for healing. They followed him for three days, experiencing his healing, bearing witness to his public ministry and glorifying Yahweh for the same. Jesus did not want to disperse the crowd without feeding them, for he saw them famished of hunger and was afraid they might faint on their way back.
Restoring sight and speech, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons, curing the crippled are all commendable, but feeding the hungry is much more fundamental and elementary. The blind or the dumb can live without sight or speech (though grueling it is), but not without food. Jesus fed the four thousand with just seven loaves and a few fish, leaving seven baskets full to spare. Thus Jesus waited on the four thousand till they had their fill.
Does he stop with that? Oh no. Every mass he waits on us in the Eucharistic banquet and nourishes us with his body and blood – till he comes in glory to usher us into the heavenly banquet at the end of time.
Of course, we must wait: – not for the Lord to come; but wait on the Lord who is with us. Our God is not a distant apathetic God, Our God is Emmanuel. Our waiting must not be that which is passive like we wait on a queue or a wait at a restaurant to be served. Rather we must wait on Jesus in our brethren like the waiter at the restaurant, always attending to his/her customers. It is this active-waiting that is expected of us Christians. Maranatha makes sense to us when we welcome Jesus by opening our doors to those without shelter. We welcome Jesus when we wait on the hungry and the thirsty. We must not wait for Jesus to come; we must go and reach out to Jesus and wait on him. That will make our Advent more meaningful, more fruitful.