As Christ Jesus was busy preaching in the hills of Judea so long ago, he stopped, realizing that the enormous crowd listening to him was probably very hungry, both in terms of needing to eat as well as being spiritually hungry. He turned to his Father in prayer, and his prayer was answered when five loaves and two fish were vastly multiplied. Suddenly there was abundant food – more than enough for everyone. As we read, “And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full” (see Matthew 14:15-21).
Yet Jesus knew that food was not the main reason why the people were there. They came hungering for the spiritual – to hear his words of love, his parables, and his counsel regarding healing and better God-centered living, much of which is found in his Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7). Many were likely there seeking physical healing, restoration, and peace. Some must have come because they had an empty feeling and were not sure exactly what was missing, but knew intuitively that it was probably not something that the material world could provide.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes on pages 365-366 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness.” Yes, we need to eat! But what many of us deeply hunger for is an assurance of God’s love and true substance, a spiritual substance that the five material senses are not aware of.
People often hunger for things such as acceptance and validation of their worth to society. For instance, I recently realized that I was hungering for a better self-image. I would try to satisfy this by shopping obsessively for just the right clothes, in the right style that would camouflage what I thought were bodily flaws. A lot of time, effort, and expense were wasted on trying to achieve the right image through material means. I needed to turn my attention in a spiritual direction.
In the Beatitudes, part of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). To be filled would be to be completely satisfied. That right image of myself that I was searching for could be found only in a better understanding of my heritage as an already perfect child of God, made spiritual in His image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27). I realized that striving to glorify God by doing His will, by doing what is right, and not willfully trying to improve my image with a shopping spree, was what I needed to aim for.
What I was really looking for was a sense of perfection that could only be found in getting to know what spiritual substance truly is. What makes up who I am, who we all are? As a spiritual idea I am not defined by my dress size or fashion sense. I am defined by the qualities of lovingkindness, unselfishness, intelligence, and peace. Rejoicing in these spiritual qualities derived from God brought a quiet comfort and assurance of God’s love, and the satisfaction that comes from feeling this love. And my shopping habits normalized.
Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). Page 55 of Science and Health says, “This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science.” A better understanding of the Comforter that meets all our needs, that satisfies our spiritual hunger, is gained when we seek the path of righteousness. Pursuing the study of Christian Science through studying the Holy Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings has surely helped lead me to a better understanding of the Comforter, the healing laws of God practiced by Christ Jesus.
And yet no matter where each one is in their journey, no matter what one thinks they hunger for, no one is excluded from the reassuring knowledge and comforting presence of Christ, Truth, which truly nourishes and satisfies.
This article was adapted from an article in the July 25, 2016, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.