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July 28, 2012 at 03:03 PM PST
On Our Common Hunger and Identity
by Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas
We tend to think that we are different from people of other races, cultures, and tongues. At times, we may even feel inferior to them. But as we become more involved in their lives, we discover that we have more similarities than differences.

I realized this again when I spent a good amount of time last week with my friend, Father Kevin, in his home state of Indiana during a conference on Catholic preaching at the University of Notre Dame. Father Kevin is a typical blond and blue-eyed American whose roots are Irish. As we drove to the conference and had meals together, we talked about work, health, faith, finance and other matters. Of course, ordained priesthood binds us, but I sensed that our human hungers, concerns, and longings are similar in many ways.

I became more conscious of this insight as I listened to the priests, keynote speakers, presenters, and other attendees of the conference. A priest from the farm lands of North Carolina, for example, shared his feeling of pride on his ministry and on the Catholic Church. “A man attending a funeral Mass in my parish told me how impressed he is with our liturgy, preaching, and outreach,” he said. “Fathers, we’re doing a great job,” he assured his fellow priests. His comments came from the human need to be validated or affirmed in one’s ministry or profession. One woman attendee expressed her need to be respected in her feminine qualities. “I’d like you to be sensitive to my affective nature as a woman when you preach to me Fathers,” she pleaded. Many women would share the same longing.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we find two people—a synagogue official and a wealth hemorrhaging woman—who acted in the same manner when they felt hopeless with their situations. They both took the unusual step of leaving their accustomed social circles and reached out for help to an itinerant preacher and healer.

Indeed, when it comes to illness, we’re all the same. We’ll do everything possible to relieve ourselves and other family members from suffering and pain. If no other medical means help us, we’re resort the healing grace of prayer and faith.

The Good News this Sunday is that God treats us all in the same way, whether we’re rich or poor, highly educated or average people. And the Lord is willing to offer us his divine life even in our serene days. We don’t have to be at our wit’s end or hit the bottom to receive his love. God’s offer of friendship, which heals all our pain and frees us from eternal death, is the same for everyone and is ever ready to be received by all.

There is a hunger for love, understanding, and meaning in every human heart. Even atheists cannot deny this human angst, no matter what argument they have against God. We can be assured that God comprehends this human hunger and is willing to satisfy it.

There are more similarities in us, human beings, than differences.

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