says, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Mt
Hunger and thirst are “automatic” desires (you don’t have to “do” anything to experience
Conclusion: Everybody becomes a saint automatically!
Alas, if only it were so easy.
At first glance, the hunger metaphor seems
inappropriate. After all, hunger just happens, period. There is no decision involved in the gastric
grumblings that embarrass us in a crowd. And our body sounds its alarm–“obey your thirst!”–every day
without even asking our permission. But we often feel little or no desire for sanctity. Far from
automatic, the desire Jesus refers to is evidently one that we must strive for and nourish by free
the question arises, “How do I acquire a longing I don’t have? Or how do I increase my feeble desire
to become a saint?” Jesus already gave us the clue: think food!
How does an infant acquire a desire for
chocolate? Well,set some M & Ms in a toddler’s tray table and see if it takes much convincing.
You don’t have to be Aristotle to know that we desire a thing when we perceive it as good. So for a
desire to grow, we need to touch, smell, taste,see… The same goes for our life with Christ: “Taste
and see the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 34).
Yet seldom do we stop and savor God’s gifts, but this attraction is the
first step on the path to holiness. In the same way, beauty bewitched common men and made them great
artists. How could Michelangelo have transfigured crude stone into the Pieta if he never
contemplated the eminent works of antiquity? How could Monet have captivated us with his water
lilies if he never meandered through the garden?
So here’s how to grow in hunger for holiness,
in your thirst for God: Let your longings for Christ swell with every spiritual good your soul
perceives. Feed these desires with fervent prayer. At the table of the Lord’s blessings, relish
every morsel he dishes out. Oh, and don’t worry, at this banquet, gluttony is a virtue!
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