XLVII. The Hungry and the Rich.

LUKE i. 53.
“He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He
hath sent empty away.”

WE are familiar with these words, occurring in the great
hymn of the incarnation, but familiar words are apt to
pass unnoticed. The lesson here conveyed is too impor-
tant to be slurred over. Mary has, as she sings, two
classes of persons before her—the hungry and the rich.
She employs these words in their spiritual meaning. By
the hungry Mary means those who have a sense of spiritual
need, those who are dissatisfied at their present attainments.
By the rich she means those who are conscious of no want,
the self-satisfied.
I. The reward of spiritual hunger. “He hath filled the
hungry with good things.”
Mary touches upon a principle of very wide range
applicable to the needs of mental, of moral, and of physical
life. If a living being is to benefit by nourishment in
body, mind, or spirit, there must be the appetite, the desire
for it.
The soul must desire God as its true life if God is to
enlighten and strengthen it. Without this desire He will
do nothing for it. It will be sent empty away. The one
condition of true spiritual enrichment is a humble, earnest,
persistent desire for the graces which God has to give.
II. The punishment of spiritual self-satisfaction—”sent
empty away.” The rich were the more numerous class in
the days of the incarnation. They did not—the mass of
them—feel any sense of religious want, but were very well
content with themselves. There was but a small minority
who waited for the consolation of Israel. The rich still
abound in the race of Israel.
III. A man, to have the presence of God in his soul,
must feel his need of God—he must be hungry. God gives
to every creature a sort of preliminary endowment which
creates in the soul a longing for Himself. The vast dif-
ferences between man and man in later life depend upon
almost unobserved acts which encourage or repress spiritual
hunger in early years.
Like other tastes, a hunger for spiritual things is
strengthened by exercise—it is weakened by neglect. We
cannot afford the eternal loss of God. Let us ask Him to
give us a strong desire to enjoy Him for ever.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.