Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Up until about 2 years ago, I hated sushi.
Didn’t even want to look at it on someone else’s plate.
The very thought of eating uncooked fish totally turned me off.

On the other hand, up until 2 years ago,
I had never eaten sushi, had never even tasted it.

But I knew I didn’t like it.
I knew it wasn't for me.

And then I tried it. And now I love it.
Now I have a real appetite for something I used to despise.

We all have appetites and they come in many varieties.
Some we share in common, and others (like sushi?) -- not so much.

The root of the word appetite means to
“have a desire toward, a longing for.”
An appetite is a “a desire to satisfy any bodily need or craving.”

Some of my appetites are for good things and…
sometimes I have an appetite for bad things.

We just heard how the Israelites, stranded in the desert,
grumbled against Moses
because they had an appetite for the bread and meat they used to eat
when they were back in Egypt and slaves of Pharaoh,
before the Lord set them free.

There was nothing wrong with the food they missed and longed for,
the problem was that they were willing to become slaves again
to satisfy the appetite in their bellies.

Sometimes we, too, become slaves to our appetites.

My appetite for one thing, even something good,
can overwhelm, can replace my appetite for something better,
something ultimately more nourishing and fulfilling.

And of course, sometimes in satisfying my appetite for something good
I forget that too much of even a good thing can be trouble.

Appetite… “having a desire toward, a longing for…

My appetites draw me in a particular direction,
they lead me somewhere,
at least in part they determine what I do, where I go,
how I get there and where I end up.

How about our appetites – yours and mine?
Where do our appetites draw us? where do they lead us?
what are they making of us along the way?
What “needs and cravings” do my appetites satisfy?

My need for control?
for status? for power? to know my neighbor’s business?
My need for wealth? for acquiring things and having more things?

What of my craving for pleasure? for leisure? for sexual satisfaction?
My craving for the best, the top of the line, the most expensive?

Do my appetites help me long for, do they draw me toward
what I truly want from life? for myself and for those I love?

How do my appetites shape my life?
how do they influence my choices? my decisions?

Do my appetites draw me closer to God and to what’s truly
nourishing, satisfying and fulfilling?

Jesus addresses just these appetites when he says,
“Don’t work for food that perishes
but rather for food that endures for ever…”
What kind of “food” am I working for?

What’s my appetite for the food the Lord offers to feed my spirit?

How strong is my appetite,
my desire to satisfy my deepest human needs:
the need to love; the need to be known and to be loved;
the need to know God
and the truth of who I am as I stand before God?

Maybe you’re listening and thinking,
“Father Fleming: I just don’t really have an appetite
   for what you’re talking about.”

Well, if that’s the case, I invite you to think of me and sushi:
something I thought I had no appetite for
something I thought "wasn't for me,"
until I tried it and discovered that I love it,
and now have an appetite for it.

The scriptures today invite us
- to name our appetites, the inner hungers
   we're always seeking to satisfy
- and to develop an appetite for spiritual food
   food that doesn't perish, food that endures.

With God’s help,
Moses fed his people with manna, bread from heaven.
And with the power of the Spirit, the Lord feeds us at his table
from the simple gifts of bread and wine we offer.
He satisfies our hunger for life with the gift of his own life,
offered once on the Cross
and now every time we gather at his altar.

The gift of the Eucharist is food that does not perish
but endures for eternal life.

Pray with me that we develop an appetite
and grow to hunger and thirst always
for the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.

-Image source

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  1. I was struck with your expression of the willingness to become a slave so that an individual could have what they "wanted", felt they "needed" or even more scary simply to have what they were used to. A powerful thought for me to consider.

  2. What a wonderful homily. How many of us hunger for things that do not nourish us and even keep us away from people who love us. I will keep this homily to read in the future again when I crave worldly things rather than heavenly things.



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