I don’t know about you, but I’m thirsty for Jesus.
I’m hungry for the Eucharist.
I want him. Physically, tangibly. Less than 10 days into coronavirus-prompted deprivation, I have a longing I’ve never experienced before. It’s a longing I never thought I’d have, given 30 years of experiencing his presence spiritually as a Protestant, ignorant of what I was missing. Even as a Catholic, it took years to understand: “This is my Body” is for real. “This is my Blood, given for you.”
Take … and eat. Drink.
I am thirsty. I’m hungry.
What are we going to do?
A friend said, I find him outside, in the beauty of nature. Another: I close my eyes and enter my heart, and meet him there. And just as I have done daily since I was 15, I open my Bible and listen as the Lord speaks to me, comforting, consoling, challenging my heart.
All of that’s good. But it’s not the same.
There are levels of communion with the Lord. Not one is like the co-mingling of body and blood that takes place at Mass, him in me until I become part of him.
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
So longs my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
As I learn to live with this new thirst, I wonder. Have I taken that communion for granted? Going weekly, daily sometimes, taking his Body and Blood in all reverence, to be sure, but not with this longing and desire. Have I appreciated the gift?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say.
How true that is.
A lesson from the past
The Old Testament is instructive in this time of forced thirst. God formed his people in the desert, where they rebelled when they got thirsty. In Meribah they forgot his care, doubted his presence, and wished themselves back in Egypt! Miraculously, he provided water from a rock. But the story lived on as a warning. “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,” God pled with them through the psalmist, years later. “Oh that today you would listen to his voice!” (See Psalm 95:7-8.)
Then in Psalm 81:
I tested you at the waters of Meribah
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you!
O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you;
you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
O my people: listen to me!
What might God be saying to us today, through this enforced deprivation?
We too are people who know, personally, the saving work of God … who have entered a desert of sorts. Do we trust that the Lord is our shepherd even here, even when he cannot be seen and touched?
Do we let panic at the hardships that come our way harden our hearts and close our ears to his voice?
Can we take this as an opportunity to examine our hearts?
Perhaps we have allowed “strange gods” among us, even while worshiping him. Have we bowed to the god of work? Of self-sufficiency? Of pleasure?
Has safety lulled us to sleep? Has excess dulled our desire?
If God has allowed us to go hungry for a time, even for him, let us …
… turn to him all the more in our hearts
… examine our lives and repent
… fill our minds and hearts with his Word
… enter spiritually into his presence
… offer up our sufferings
… not put the Lord to the test
… approach him with gratitude, thanksgiving and trust
… ask, humbly, for his grace.
Let us focus our longing on him. And let us wait in patience for the water from the Rock that is Christ.
Open your mouth wide, and He will fill it.
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer
You might also like:
- Thirsty? Choose Where to Go With Your Longing (learning from the Woman at the Well)
- Thirsting for God (first in a series of posts on how the Psalms teach us to reach out in thirst to the One who can satisfy).
- Dr. Edward Sri talks about making a spiritual communion and how to worship even when we can’t go to Mass in The House of the Lord is Closed but the Glory Has Not Departed.