#1: Hungering for Jesus in Sacred Scripture with St. Augustine

One practical way St. Augustine awakened his hungry heart for “the banquet” meal of the Eucharist was through his ardent devotion to Sacred Scripture. 

In the language of “hungry hearts”, Scripture is the menu and the Eucharist is the meal. And we all know from going to restaurants that there is a huge difference between the menu and the meal. Let me share a story to explain. 

One of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver is an East Asian fusion place called Potluck Hawker Eatery. One time, I brought a good friend, Jerome Robles, to experience this restaurant for the first time. After reading through the menu together for a couple of minutes, Jerome didn’t know what to order. He had never been there before. He had no real experience of eating any of the meals nor did he know who was in the kitchen cooking. For Jerome, the menu was just textual information and Potluck was just another Asian restaurant. 

But for myself, it was a completely different experience. Since I had already been there a dozen times and tried a wide variety of the delicious food, I had practically memorized the menu and knew exactly what to order. I had real experience of eating the meals and, at a deeper level, I knew who was in the kitchen cooking – Justin Cheung, a personal friend. I also know this guy really cares about the food and so I always come as hungry as possible to feast at the banquet he prepares for me. And so, for myself, the menu was way more than just textual information, it was a sign and reminder of real events that had taken place in my life in the context of a good relationship with the chef – who was turning me into a foodie. As a result, I was really hungry! Way hungrier, in fact, than Jerome. And I was able to delight in the meal so much more too. 

I share this story because it helps us understand the interconnection between Scripture and the Eucharist. 

On a spiritual level, every time we go to Mass, we are truly at the greatest restaurant ever and we get to eat the greatest Meal ever made – the Eucharist. Although the Mass is far greater than just a spiritual meal at a restaurant, this analogy will help us understand 

The first half of the Mass – “the liturgy of the Word” (CCC 1346) – is when we check out “the Menu”. We hear the readings from Scripture and listen to the priest, who’s like the waiter, unpacking the special Menu items of the day in his homily. The more time we’ve spent with the Menu of Scripture beforehand in personal prayer and reflection, the more we will awaken that spiritual hunger in our hearts. To take it one step further, this Menu is literally alive too – it’s interactive, dynamic, and powerful. It’s designed to awaken your hungry heart for more in life. 

But we know that’s not enough. No one goes to a restaurant and says: “Hey, I really enjoyed reading the menu. Thanks!” and then leaves. No. The Menu of Scripture is meant to prepare us for the Meal – to direct our minds and hearts to what awaits us. 

So, the second half of the Mass – “the liturgy of the Eucharist” (CCC 1346) – is when we “eat the Meal”. When the priest elevates the Eucharist and says: “Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb,” he is revealing to us how privileged we are to be at this Meal – the greatest banquet Meal ever! Yes, Jesus is truly behind the scenes like a chef, pouring His whole life into this meal – blood, sweat, and tears – literally! And we get to receive it all as a free gift. 

When you really know the Author of Scripture and you’ve tasted His Eucharist Meal, it changes everything. 

St. Augustine regularly had his heart set ablaze by reading Scripture. He not only had his entire conversion experience center around an encounter with God through the living Word of Scripture but he also allowed this flame to grow and expand throughout the rest of his life. For example, speaking of the impact the Book of Psalms had in his life, he said: 

“What cries did I utter to You in those psalms and how was I inflamed towards You by them, and on fire to set them sounding through all the world, if I could, against the pride of man!” (9, IV). 

And speaking of the Eucharist, St. Augustine said:

“He who is all-knowing knew of nothing more that He could give than the Eucharist. He who is all-powerful could not do any more than he does in the Sacrament and He who is all loving had nothing more that He could give. The Eucharist is a Divine storehouse filled with every virtue.”

May we too develop a similar love for Sacred Scripture, to set our hearts ablaze with a hunger for the “Divine storehouse” of the Eucharist. Never go a day with opening up the Bible and allowing God to speak to you. 

To conclude: What is 1 thing you want to remember from this reflection?

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