Easily pleased, easily disappointed

Published August 1, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Fr. Rolando V. De La Rosa, OP

THROUGH UNTRUE

Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa, O.P.

We are creatures of desire. From the moment we wake up until we sleep, we are consumed with desire. Desire fuels our enthusiasm to live, dream, and achieve.

Sadly, the flipside of desire is disappointment because we don’t always get what we want. To reduce the pain of frustration, we often engage in sour-graping — we convince ourselves that our unattainable goal is not really worth having. Or, we rationalize that the object of our desire is not meant for us, so we decide to give it up rather than chase after the wind.

Many of us, however, simply downsize our desire and redirect it to what we can easily achieve. We settle for substitutes, pale versions of what we originally longed for. As C.S. Lewis writes: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with food, drink, sex and ambition, forgetting that infinite joy is offered us. We are like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what a holiday at the sea meant. We are far too easily pleased.”

Rightly said. We are too easily pleased and very quickly disappointed when we run after pleasures that are effortlessly obtained.  They satisfy our desire for a while, then leave us pining for more. We jump from one cheap thrill to another, resulting in a never-ending series of satiety and disenchantment.

Desire is a built-in software that God has placed in our makeup. He designed it in such a way that we remain dissatisfied with everything until we realize that only God can fulfill our deepest longing. That is why St. Augustine writes: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.” Trouble is, many of us have abandoned our desire for God, and instead settled for pleasures that lead to addiction, not fulfillment.

In our Gospel today, after the miraculous feeding of five thousand Jews, Jesus leaves without saying goodbye. Tantalized, the Jews look for Him everywhere. But Jesus knows that they are not motivated by their desire for Him. They simply want what He can do for them. “You are looking for me because you ate the loaves of bread that I gave you and you were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:26-27).

Jesus is not telling the Jews to abolish, suppress, or repress their desire for food. Rather, He wants them to intensify, and expand it because, by an ironic twist, only in this way will they recognize the deeper hunger that lurks in their heart, which only Jesus can satisfy.

Whenever we pray, we often act like the Jews, asking God what we want. But as usually happens, what we want is not what we need. Perhaps it is about time that we change the way we pray. We must pray that God would increase our desire for Him, so that we could receive what He is preparing to give us. By intensifying our desire for God, we enlarge our capacity to receive His bountiful gifts.

St. Paul tells us, “Pray without ceasing” (1Thessalonians 5:16), which means: “Desire God unceasingly for He alone pleases and never disappoints.” Truly, if God is all we have, we will realize that God is all we need.

 
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