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Reflection for March 11, 2007

"Human Desires"

Today's Mass Readings

Desire is a neutral human quality. It is what one desires and how one chooses to fulfil these desires that make it either good or bad.

Today’s readings are a great commentary on human desire. The Israelites in today’s first reading were thirsty. They “desired” water. When they saw that there was no water they should have known that the same God who had miraculously rescued them from the mighty Egyptians could also provide them with water. Instead, they grumbled to such an extent that Moses was scared they would stone him. But then, that is nature of desires. Unless our natural human desires are tempered by the Spirit of God they can be the source of much evil. People steal, lie, and become corrupt to fulfil their desires. Some will even kill for what they want. And that is why in the Christian monastic tradition the monks they spent much time disciplining their bodily desire. They were taught to desire God alone.

While the Israelites grumbled, in today’s gospel reading, the Samaritan woman went even further. She desired contentment but she looked for it in sinful relationships. Even by today’s standards, five previous husbands and going on sixth is rather outrageous. But the point is that nothing and no one could offer her contentment. The Samaritan woman’s desire were fulfilled in Jesus and the salvation he offered her.

God is the highest point of all desires. Lenten penances are meant to purify our desires. Our fast, abstinence and penance remind us of the fleeting nature of all desires. Desires are impermanent. Today we desire a Toyota, tomorrow we desire a Lexus. At the end of our life, each of our desires will pass away. Only one will remain – our desire for God. At the end of sinful part of his existence St. Augustine is supposed to have said, “Our hearts are thirsty for you O God, and they will not rest until they rest in thee.” During Lent we remind ourselves that at the end of our lives there is only one thing we will have forever – God.