wants or needs? 18th Sunday

Jul 29, 2011

“The hand of the Lord feeds us;
he answers all our needs”

The psalm that follows the first reading at every Mass is often overlooked. We might make an effort to listen to the message of the three other readings. But the psalm is often seen as little more than an interval before we concentrate on the second reading and the Gospel.

Take a moment to consider the verse above. It  succinctly communicates the heart of today’s scriptures. God is providing for all our needs. 

Perhaps you are not noticing this in your life right now? Let’s check out a few reasons why you might feel that God is not ‘answering all your needs’ at the moment.

In that last sentence there are a couple of key words. 

The first is ‘feelings’.  Any healthy, happy person has feelings. Too often we give our feelings a status that they do not warrant. We might feel pleasure and assume that all is well and right. We might feel anxiety or sorrow and jump to the conclusion that something is wrong. At times, any of us can fall into the trap of doing more of what ‘feels’ good, and running from what ‘feels’ bad. 

Such simplistic assumptions can never lead us to deep satisfaction.

Our feelings are the starting point for sound reflection. At times I do feel sad. Why do I think my sadness is because something is wrong? 

Perhaps I am sad because my teenager is leaving home? This is a sad moment. But it is right that the young adult makes a move from home to establish her own life. So this is a situation that is both sad AND right. 

Perhaps I feel happy?  But the reason might be that the fourth glass of chardonnay is beginning to take effect and I am actually under anesthetic!

The healthy person will always be aware of their feelings. But they will also know that feelings are often superficial, revealing little more than the colour of a veneer. 

A healthy person will feel sadness the moment they realise that their ‘happy’ feeling is due only to the alcohol. 

The healthy person who feels sadness at the loss of home and business in the earthquake, will taste a deeper joy in remembering that “the hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.”

This word “needs” is the second key word. Do I know what I really need? Or is my life motivated by the urge to satisfy the ‘wants’ that numb my deeper needs?

All too often my prayer is a time of presenting my apparent ‘wants’ to God. Then, I might mistakenly judge the activity or absence of God by noting if I ‘got’ what I ‘wanted.

How helpful it is to look back and rejoice that God did not simply respond to my rash and undiscerned wants. Instead God was (often at a level deeper than my awareness) constantly ‘answering all my needs’. Such remembering enables me to relax into the embrace of the one who “feeds us, and answers all our needs.”

We hear this powerfully in today’s readings: the eager invitation of God, the assurance of His protection and love, the abundance of divine provision for all that we need.

All of our needs are met when we remember that “nothing can separate us from the love of God, made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord”.     

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