Hunger today is for more than food
Corporal: Feed the hungry
Spiritual: Instruct the uninformed
My father loved food. It was easy to get hungry just hearing him describe his favorite foods or food experiences. Eating was a consoling part of life for him. Isn’t it for most people?
It was bitter irony that he ended up succumbing to colon cancer. As the disease was progressing to its inevitable completion, my dad found himself in an unimaginable position – he could no longer eat.
Understandably, this was a difficult threshold to cross. Human beings are made to eat. We eat so that we can live.
Among the corporal works of mercy, feeding the hungry is probably the most common. Human beings have a very hard time watching other people go without food. So, we gather up food and take it to the local soup kitchen or food bank. When the call goes out, people usually respond with great enthusiasm.
In feeding the hungry we help our brothers and sisters in the most vital way. As their bodies receive food, they are able to move forward in their own journey toward the Lord, perhaps more hopeful because they have not been left alone to fend for themselves.
Jesus shows us, however, that physical hunger is not the only source of emptiness. In our day, there is a staggering hunger of another kind – the hunger for knowledge and truth.
The whole point of education is to help people know what they need to know as quickly as possible so that they won’t have to suffer the disastrous effects of ignorance. Ignorance is a form of bondage, for without the light of truth we cannot correctly navigate the course of life. It’s hard to "do good" and "avoid evil" if we don’t know what’s good and what’s evil.
The church has a storied history of the spiritual work of instructing the uninformed. This is why we have Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, catechetical institutes and formation apostolates. When the mind and conscience are informed (and formed) by Truth, by the Word of God, men and women are able to live in authentic freedom.
The work of evangelization is motivated by a deep sense of dissatisfaction within those who have come to know the truth. They simply can’t stand the idea that people could go through life without knowing. How strong is this drive within you? There are hungry people out there who need you.
Father Daniel Andrews is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk.