Providing the Hunger

In a talk entitled Eucharist as Touchstone, the Rev. Richard Rohr says,

The Eucharist is telling us that God is the food and all we have to do is provide the hunger. Somehow we have to make sure that each day we are hungry, that there’s room inside of us for another presence. If you are filled with your own opinions, ideas, righteousness, superiority, or sufficiency, you are a world unto yourself and there is no room for “another.”

I must admit that while the Eucharist, or Communion, has always been deeply meaningful to me, I have never before thought of it quite this way.  I love Richard Rohr’s suggestion that our role as we approach the Eucharist is to “provide the hunger”.  And as he explores what that means, he interprets it in terms of providing “room inside of us for another presence”.

On the one hand, it seems so simple:  allowing room in our hearts and souls for God to be present in and with us.  On the other hand, it is often so hard to actually accomplish.  Too often, as Rohr says, each of us is a world unto him-/herself, because we are so filled with ourselves:  our “own opinions, ideas, righteousness, superiority, or sufficiency”.   There is simply no room for God.

In his First Letter to the Corinthians (11:17-32), St. Paul criticizes the way in which the Christian community in Corinth is celebrating the Eucharist.  The wealthier among them are bringing a whole picnic lunch to church and feasting sumptuously in front of the poorer members of the community, who have little or nothing.  It reflects the fact that in the early church, the Eucharist was celebrated as part of a larger meal.  Eventually, perhaps in part because of the problems St. Paul is discussing, the meal was dropped, leaving only the blessing of the bread and wine.

St. Paul criticizes the Corinthians for misunderstanding what the Eucharist is about.   Those who are hungry (physically) are to eat at home before they come to church, he says.  In his own way, Paul is making the same point that Rohr is making:  that when we come to the Eucharist, we are to bring a spiritual hunger, a space within us for God’s presence to dwell and, from that dwelling place in our hearts, to begin to transform our ideas and opinions so that they reflect the values of the kingdom of God, and to remind us that our whole lives, our whole beings, depend on the One who seeks to come and make a home within us.

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