Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are You Saved?

Homily on the 23rd Sunday of Year B
(Mark 7:31-37)
September 6, 2009

“Are you saved?” This was the question posed to me by a born-again Christian, while I was seated in a restaurant. When I said, no, he immediately told me to accept Jesus as my personal savior, and I would be saved. Before I could object, I swiftly tacked the appropriate verse from Acts, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30). The theological underpinning for this claim is that, Jesus, according to this born-again, has saved us from sin on the cross, and all a person needs to do is to accept him in faith. There is some truth to that proposition, of course, for Christ died on the cross to save sinners. Barring other theological issues that arise from it, however, it must be stressed, thought, that salvation cannot be circumscribed to forgiveness of sins, if by sin one understands a transgression of a law. It would be wrong to limit Christ’s saving work to it. The three readings today widen our concept of what it means to be saved.

We can begin by examining the Gospel. Jesus’ salvific work finds another description in the reaction of the people to the healing of the deaf-mute: “He has done everything well! He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (Mark 7:37). Undoubtedly, Mark portraits Jesus as the perfect fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that we find in the 1st Reading, speaking of Israel’s salvation: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing” (Isa 35:5-6). In this oracle, Isaiah sees the destruction of Israel ’s enemies as precondition for the liberation of the people, and, on the positive side, the glory of God manifested in the transformation of the nation, especially among the most unfortunate—the blind, deaf, mute and dumb.

The point should be obvious. When we speak of salvation, we cannot circumscribe it to forgiveness of sins, or to spiritual healing. If we are to be true to the Gospel reading, our concept of salvation should include not only forgiveness of sins, but also physical healing, freedom from sickness and infirmity, the experience of bodily wholeness. We must speak of the liberation of man from bodily and spiritual infirmity and the experience of spiritual and bodily integrity. For this reason, whenever we contribute to the physical well-being of people, we do our share in the work of salvation. In itself, physical suffering is evil, and it is not God’s will that people suffer senselessly. In fact, it is because of the concern of the Church for the bodily health that she became involved in the systematic care of the sick. In the middle ages, we had the medical care of the infirm in monasteries and the Knights of Hospitalers. The philosophical foundation of this is quite simply: man is not only a soul, he is also a body, and has a body.

But there is more to that. Man is a social being. To be alone is to be less than human. We must live with other people. We forge bond of relationships that bind us together. That is why it is true to say that we become human or less-than-human through and with others. If we go back to the 1st Reading and the Gospel, we find that the liberation of Israel includes the experience of wholeness by the unfortunate members of society—the blind, deaf, dumb and mute. At the time of Jesus, these people belonged to the degraded and expendable class. Because of their physical defects, they were not part of the pure Jewish community. The Jewish society practically had no need of them. They were stripped of their rights: they could not even enter the Temple . They were discriminated against. And when people are discriminated against, of course, they do not enjoy salvation.

In view of this, Jesus’ healing was not simply an act of liberating them from their physical defects. Of no less consequence, they were liberated from social and religious discrimination, for they were enabled to worship in the Temple and enjoy the company of others. In other words, healing restored them to the community of Israel . Salvation then implies equality and participation. As the community of the saved, we are all equal before God our Father, and we have no basis to treat other people differently. Understandably enough, James, in the 2nd Reading (James 2:1-5), says that our faith is belied by our partiality shown to others, like the rich.

Clearly, then, salvation is co-extensive with the various dimensions of the human person: physical, mental, spiritual, and social.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Place of Mosaic Law in Christian Life

Homily on the 22nd Sunday of Year B
(Mark 7:1-8.14-15.21-23)
August 30, 2009

When Kris Aquino delivered the family’s final message on August 5, 2009 at the Manila Cathedral during the Requiem Mass for Tita Cory, she admitted that she “lied” to her mother at the latter’s deathbed that she and her siblings would be okay, if only to relieve her mom of the burden of worry for her children. Quite the contrary. As she herself put it, “mom, it would take a lifetime for us to be okay.” One cannot but sympathize with Kris. With the passing of her mom, family life would never be the same again. She and her siblings would have to construct another world where Tita Cory is no longer physically present. Or, to put it differently, the symbolic universe under which they lived for a number of years has been shattered. Hence, they would have to make a new definition of what it means to live the life of an Aquino family; there has to be a new regulation of life for them, a new way of regulating relationship without the moral authority and physical presence of Tita Cory.

At the time of Jesus, the symbolic universe that regulated the relationship between the individual and the Jewish society, between a Jew and his fellow Jews was the Law of Moses. By this is meant not only the Ten Commandments or the Pentateuch, but the entire Old Testament. The Law defined the people of God and stipulated the way of life that a Jew must live. So, just as what defines the Filipino way of life is the Philippine Constitution, so what regulated the Jewish way of life was the Law. Understandably enough, the Jews must observe it faithfully if they wished to live a meaningful life. Thus the 1st Reading: “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. In your observance of the commandments of the Lord your God, which I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to what I command nor subtract from it” (Deut 4:1-2). Because of the centrality of the Law in Jewish life, it is not surprising that they have been called a people of the Law.

But must Christians make the Law central to their lives?

As we learned in the preceding Sundays, Jesus declared himself the bread of life. If we want to live, if we wish to have eternal life, we must eat the bread of life. As we noted, in John’s Gospel, this means two things. First, since Jesus as bread of life is God’s wisdom, we must become something like the incarnate word, the Bible people read,, or , in the words of St Paul, the letter of Christ, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God (2 Cor 3:2). Since Jesus as bread of life is God’s sacrament, the Spirit lives in us and we live in him, and we mediate Christ’s presence to men. Of course, such a view is not found in the Gospel of Mark, but the thought is not foreign to it, for by his criticism of the Law, Jesus in Mark is trying to say that he is the norm of life, he it is who regulates the relationship between God and the people, between the individual and society, and among the members of the community. Not the Law but first of all Jesus, or in John, the bread of life, constitutes the symbolic universe for Christians. Here, Law is relativized—it finds its fulfillment only in Jesus.

It is for this reason that in the Gospel, Jesus criticized the Law. If religion were solely concerned with the observance of the law, it would probably be very easy to practice it. To go to church regularly, to abstain from meat, to give contribution to charities—these are not difficult to do. But according to the Gospel, there is a danger that we might separate these from the intention of the commands of the law—the matters of the heart and of the spirit. The law, at its bottom, is really rooted in the love of God in men. To be sure, our external life may be faultless, but the heart is full of evil and bitter thoughts. Rightly then Jesus quoted Isaiah: “This people pays me lip service, but their heart is far from me. Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts” (Isa 29:13; Mark 7:6b-7). The heart is hardly within the sphere of the Law.

But even more important, Jesus replaced the role of the Law. What regulates a pleasing life before God is not the law, but Jesus himself. As we noted in John, this is what eating the bread of life means. But for Mark, who seldom uses signs, Jesus’ criticism of the Law is his own way of saying that the center of Christian life is not the Law, but Jesus himself—his life and ministry, but especially his passion, death and resurrection. If Kris and her siblings used to have Cory to provide them their symbolic universe, Christians follow the person of Jesus who gives meaning to the Christian world view. Since Jesus is the center of Christian life, this implies that one cannot be a Christian by merely following the Law. No wonder that in the 2nd Reading, James exhorts his reader to welcome the word—the word of salvation that, in the New Testament, is none other than Jesus himself—and to act upon it: “Humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you. Act on this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourself” (James 1:21b-22). In Luke, of course, to welcome the word and act on it is what discipleship, a life centered on Jesus, means—a thought which is not foreign to James.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Eucharist as the Supreme Norm of Life

Homily on the 21st Sunday of Year B
(John 6:60-69)
August 23, 2009

The Cory magic that drew hundreds of thousands to brave the inclement weather to bid goodbye to former President Aquino had a number of significance. Quite apart from being a huge outpouring of affection for her, it could also be taken an expression of people’s dream of what true governance should be, of which Cory is a symbol. Given a dispensation perceived to be rife with grand scale corruption, electoral fraud, extrajudicial killings, betrayal of public trust, Cory’s incorruptible character, her heart for the downtrodden, her truthfulness, simplicity and humility, to mention a few, encapsulate people’s expectation from a leader of the nation. As Lanie Aquino puts it, “her legacy for moral leadership and unequivocal dedication to her countrymen will forever keep me vigilant against those people whose only intention is to entrench themselves in the power elite core, enriching themselves in the process, robbing the Filipino people and the country’s resources dry.” In other words, if hundred of thousands came out to see the funeral cortege, it was to crystallize where the choice of the people lies—it is on the side of truth, incorruptibility, self-sacrifice, liberality and transparency.

In today’s Gospel (John 6:60-69), a somewhat parallel issue is being presented to us. It may be recalled from the previous Sundays that according to John Jesus proclaimed his own goal for man to achieve in order to make him happy: eternal life, a life in which people are one and love one another, and experience freedom and integrity. And just as Cory had a program for real democracy, Jesus had a program to attain that form of life--the bread of life. As we saw in the preceding Sundays, Jesus, as Eucharist, presented himself first as Wisdom—the Word of God, and the Christians, as an implication of Jesus’ claim, are a community of the Word, hearing it, living it, and embodying it. This is what it means to eat the bread of life. Next, he offered himself as Sacrament—the sign of God love for his people, manifested in his dying for them, and for this reason the community lives the spirit of Jesus, he dwells in the community, and the community lives in him. The members of the community share with others all they have and are, and are filled with the Spirit, manifested in their faces, and in their songs. This, too, is what eating the bread of life means.

But the Gospel challenges us: do we accept him as the bread of life? Do we accept him as the principle, guide, standard and supreme norm of our lives? Do we accept him as our redeemer, saving us by giving himself to us as bread of life? Such a challenge was also offered to the people in the Old Testament. As the First Reading (Jos 24:1-2.15-17.18) points out, Joshua at a renewal of the covenant in Shechem after the Israelites entered into the promised land gathered all the tribes and gave them a challenge: “Decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling” (Jos 24:15bc). The people answered: “We will serve the Lord for he is our God” (Jos 24:18). Similarly, in the New Testament, we who have seen the power of God manifested in the life and death of Jesus are given the challenge: “Do you want to leave me, too?” (John 6:67). Shall we refuse to believe that in eating the Wisdom and the Sacrament of God we will attain everlasting life? John, of course, presents Peter as the model of our response to the challenge: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We are have come to believe, we are convinced that you are God’s holy one” (John 6:69).

But the implication of this yes of Peter to Jesus words is quite enormous. For to accept Jesus as the supreme norm of our life means that we decide to empty ours and fill it with the life of Jesus, which is more than simply saying that we imitate him in discipleship. Moreover, if we link this to the Second Reading (Eph 5:21-32), accepting Jesus as the bread of life implies that we cannot manifest in ourselves and in our lives the life and death of Jesus without having to form a new family of God, in much the same way that those who affirmed the Lord as their God at the time of Joshua eventually recognized themselves as the people of God. By eating the bread of life, we form in the final result God’s family headed by Christ himself who loves the community. And his relationship with the community becomes itself the pattern of the relationship that exists among the members—loving one another, giving up one’s life for the sake of the other (Eph 5:23). We cast aside our past life and unite ourselves with the members of the community in an unbreakable bond of unity (cf Eph 5:31 ).

At the beginning of our reflection, we adverted to the thought that given an atmosphere where lies, injustice, abuse of power are perceived to prevail, people yearn for a new order where there is truth, transparency, justice, and self-sacrifice, especially among leaders of the nation. Will our national leaders opt for this dreamed-of new order? Of course, some politicians could make this order their slogan, but whether they would make it as their real choice, considering that it would entail loss of power and privilege, remains to be seen. In the light of the Gospel, we have to ask: shall we make Jesus the supreme norm of his life? Yet, that is what it means to be a Christian. Of course, in our liturgy, we are reminded in the response to the Eucharistic Prayer that the right attitude to the challenge of Jesus is to say “Amen” to him. That way, we follow Peter who said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Eucharist as Sacrament of God’s Presence

Homily on the 20th Sunday of Year B
(John 6:51-58)
August 16, 2009

Whereas last Sunday’s Gospel describes the Eucharist as God’s Wisdom, today’s deals with the Eucharist as Sacrament of his presence. To understand the significance of this dimension of the Eucharist, one of the ways of approaching it is by referring to the 1st Reading, which speaks of Wisdom tendering a banquet: “[Wisdom] has dressed her meant, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table… she has sent out her maidens; she calls from her heights out over the city: ‘Let whoever is simple turn in here; to him who lacks understanding, I say, come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed” (Prov 9:2-5). In this passage, God’s plan for his people is called Wisdom, and is compared to a banquet. As the man who goes to the banquet is given sustenance, so the man who follows the plan of God lives a holy and good life. That is to say, if the Christian community wants to live a life which brings happiness and well-being, it has to follow the plan of God—imaged in Proverbs by the drinking of God’s wine and the eating of his food. If it sustains itself with God’s plan, it will forsake foolishness and advance in its ways (Prov 9:6).

But what is God’s plan? As the Gospel implies, God’s plan is for us to have life, and live forever (John 6:57-58). By life we do not, of course, mean winning the first prize of the lotto, or always having enough supplies in the freezer or a mountain of deposit in the bank, or having the best vacation house. Whatever value one may place on these, it is obvious that they do not abide. Rather, life, if it has any significance to our life on earth, means first of all an experience of fellowship in the family and in the Christian community, a sense of belonging and integrity, a sense of wholeness and community. In such community, we do not harbor resentment against others, we experience forgiveness, wholeness, and oneness. These are the values that abide, and we are confident that God will eternalize them.

How is such a life attained? Says Jesus: “Let me assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood real drink. The man who feeds on my flesh and drink my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:53-56). This does not mean, of course, that all we do is eat the body and drink the body of Jesus in the Eucharistic Celebration, and then we can rest assured that this will do us good. We must not ever think that the Sacrament is like a vitamin—taking it frequently will make us spiritually healthy. Rather, this first of all requires faith. Unless we have faith that Jesus is present in the Sacrament, we will not benefit from its saving power. To partake of the Sacrament therefore presupposes our belief that Jesus is truly present in it. Because we receive him in faith, Jesus remains in us and we in him, and we have life in him: “The man who feeds on me will have life because of me” (John 6:57b). Of course, this indicates that our faith is not simply theoretical. Once we receive him, we must endeavor to dwell in him. Faith requires a response from us: the Lord dwells in us so that the life we live is the life of Jesus himself. Thus Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself to me” (Gal 2:19-20). In receiving the Sacrament, therefore, we make an effort to live what it signifies: a life in imitation of the Lord who suffered for others. Like the broken bread and the shared wine, we become persons-for-others.

It is in this sense that we read the 2nd Reading (Eph 5:15-20). According to Paul, as a response to the offer of faith, we must keep careful watch over our conduct; we avoid wine leading the debauchery. We avoid what can hurt, bring disorder and create division in the community, for these values make us less than a sacrament of the body and blood. On the contrary, we discern the will of God, and we must be filled with the Spirit. And what is his will? The will of God is, among others, to make others happy, and forgive them. That way, the community becomes a place where we gain integrity and well-being, wholeness and happiness. Hence, when we receive the Eucharist, we proclaim that we are a people in whom God dwells, and we are a people who live the life of God: happy, whole, singing with all our hearts because we know how to love, forgive and be compassionate. By so acting, we are actually demonstrating to all that we are a community transformed into a sacrament of the Eucharist.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Eucharist as Wisdom of God

Homily on the 19th Sunday of Year B
(John 6:41-51)
August 9, 2009

Today’s Gospel (John 6:41-51) forms part of Jesus’ discourse on the Eucharist (John 6:26-58). Of course, when people speak of the Eucharist, they usually associate it either with the Body and Blood of Jesus that one receives during the communion rite, or with the Mass itself. This Sunday’s gospel and the next Sunday’s, however, give us a wider view of what the Eucharist means, for they treat two aspects of it. Whereas, next Sunday, the theme concerns on the Eucharist as Sacrament, in today’s gospel, the theme is sapiential: the Eucharist as Wisdom.

What does the Eucharist as Wisdom mean? As John portrays him, Jesus considers himself the bread of life, whom the Father has sent as a sign that God cares for his people; he provides support for them. It is for this reason that Jesus performed the miracles of the multiplication of the loaves (John 6:1-13) on account of which, those who have been following, hungry and poor, had their fill. Unfortunately, though, the Jews could not recognize the meaning of the multiplication of the loaves. For them, it was simply meant to satisfy hunger; they could not see beyond that function. Hence, his parenesis: “I assure you, you are not looking for me because you have seen signs but because you have eaten your fill of the loaves. You should not be working for perishable food but for food that remains unto life eternal, food which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:26b-27b). Like the manna of the Old Testament, the multiplication of the loaves was a sign so that they will understand that man does not live on bread alone, but “by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3b). Man must eat the Word—God’s Wisdom--because it is the bread of life, and the Eucharist is that Wisdom.

That for Jesus the Eucharist--which is he himself--is God’s Wisdom is evidenced by his quotation from Isaiah 54:13 in the same discourse: “It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall be taught by God’” (John 6:43). For John, this Isaianic prophecy is realized in Jesus who says that “everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me… he who believes in him has eternal life; I am the bread of life” (John 6:43-47). It may be recalled that according to John in the beginning was the Word, and the Word came into the world and became flesh (John 1:1-14). If this is linked with the Isaian quotation, what emerges is that God teaches his people through his Word, his Wisdom, who became man--Jesus. Thus, if John says that Jesus is the bread of life, he means that Jesus is God’s wisdom, on whom men must live so they will have eternal life.

It is in this context that the 1st Reading (1 Kgs 19:4-8) must be interpreted. Just as the bread given by the angel was able to sustain Elijah in his journey to Horeb (v 8), so the Eucharistic Word of God, if eaten, can sustain the Christian community, which is a pilgrim community, in its journey toward the mountain of God--eternal life. An analogy is in order. The Indians have a saying: you are what you eat. What one eats mentally, for instance, eventually makes him, or at least affects his behavior. In 1992, when the motion picture “Booyz N the Hood,” which was about violence, was shown, it triggered a wave of violence. If one is always glued on television, he will eventually acquire the language of that medium. The reason for this is that man has a mind, a body and a spirit, and just as good food is needed for bodily health, so for our spiritual life, we need good mental and spiritual food, and that is none other than God’s Wisdom—the Eucharist.

This interpretation has implications for liturgy and life. When we celebrate the Eucharist, what is most important is not only transubstantiation and communion. The Word is of no less importance. In fact, the Word and Communion are inseparable. The Jesus who is present in the sacrament is the very the same Jesus who is present in his Word, for he is Word-in-Flesh. That is why we partake from two tables: the Table of the Word, and the Table of the Sacrament—both of which express the Eucharist. For our daily life, this implies that if Jesus the Word became flesh, so the Christian community must embody the Word. In the Eucharist we gather not only to hear the Word, but to live it. We listen to what we ought to be. Indeed, if we do this, we are imitating the nature of the written word of God. Before the Bible became a book, it was first lived. In other words, it is not a dead book, but a living one. The Christian community must therefore keep it alive by living it: the community is itself God’s Word—the Eucharist. Understandably enough, that community lives a life in which the word of God is lived: it exhibits compassion and forgiveness, getting rid of all bitterness, passion, anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind (Eph 4:31-32, 2nd Reading ).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hungry People and the Bread of Life

Homily on the 18th Sunday of Year B
(John 6:24-35)
August 2, 2009

In the June 2009 UN statistical report, we are told that there are 1.02 billion people who are hungry, which is a sixth of the world population, 642 million of whom are from the Asia and Pacific regions. According to the latest data (June 2009) of the pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) in Manila, 3.7 million Filipino families or one in 5 families experience involuntary hunger at least once in the last three months. No wonder that when people in Philippine villages come to know that food is to be distributed after mass, many flock to the church, in much the same way that Jews sought Jesus after the miracle of the loaves (John 6:26). This probably explains why people follow those who can provide them their basic needs; it does not matter to them whether the latter are thieves, bandits, corrupt, usurper or immoral.

But this brings us to the question: in face of so many people going hungry, can one still say that God cares for his people? We ask this question because, in the Old Testament tradition, the Jews look upon the Exodus experience, when God sent manna form heaven to feed his people in the desert journey, as a sign of his care. They did not have to experience hunger. (Exod 16:12-15). Which is why, in today’s Gospel, the Jews thought that, since Jesus claimed to have been sent by God to his people, he should surpass Moses by providing them something like the manna of old (John 6:31). The ability to satisfy their hunger was for them a sign that one is the promised anointed of God (John 6:14).

But Jesus told them not to labor so much about material food: “You should not be working for perishable food” (John 6:27). There are values that are higher than our fundamental needs. The values of truth, justice, peace, mercy—these are values obviously higher than food, shelter and clothing about which most people are concerned. Yet, what do most people hold dear? Just look at where the majority in ordinary towns invest their money in—fabulous residential house, beautiful face and body, vacation villa, jewelries, exotic and exquisite food, fine dining, signatured apparel, latest car model. You can gauge their values from the TV advertisements. And all these perish.

Nonetheless, when one pursues those higher values, one notices that basic needs are set aside, if not forgotten. People who protest against injustice even make their protest real by having a hunger strike! Those who experience love are able to forgo satisfaction of the stomach. In an effort to promote peace, one even sacrifices material possessions. On the other hand, when one’s love is jilted, he or she refuses to eat. One may also give up money if this is an obstacle to healing and reconciliation. All this make it clear that our needs cannot be circumscribed to the basic ones. Precisely because man is not only a bodily being, but also a spiritual one, he has spiritual needs that also have to be satisfied. These spiritual needs are higher than our material needs. In fact, they are imperishable (cf John 6:27).

Which is why, in our present dispensation, God did not send material bread, manna from heaven, as a sign of his care. Rather, he sent spiritual bread in the person of Jesus. If manna was a sign of God’s love for his people in the Old Testament, Jesus is his sign of his love in the New Testament. He is the bread from heaven. It is he who alone can satisfy our hunger for love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, truth. From his experience, St Augustine could say that God made us for him; we continue to experience hunger, we remain restless until the longing of our hearts is satisfied by the Lord himself. Since life is more than food, it cannot be satisfied by the abundance of food, shelter and clothing. Precisely because we are spiritual beings, we need a spiritual food, food that lasts, and that food is no other than Jesus himself. He is thus the bread of life (John 6:35). It is obvious then why, to show his care for his people in our time, God sent not manna, but his Son himself.

It is unfortunate that many people are blind to their real needs. All they see is material needs. Hence, our war for more money, more territory, more business, more arms. Many of us are so blind to our spiritual needs that spiritual values are set aside just come obtain material comfort. We sell our votes, we murder for money, we exchange honor for material rewards, we steal, we manipulate, we crave for power, we fool people in order to accumulate more power and money. But we have to learn from the likes of St Francis of Assisi who, having found Jesus as bread of life, jettisoned all worldly possessions. For Jesus himself promised, “no one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me shall ever thirst” (John 6:35b) In the words of St Teresa of Avila , solo Dios basta! God alone is enough. Truth is, if only people will labor to satisfy their longing for spiritual values and for Jesus himself, the consequence would be the satisfaction of material needs—there would be an end to hunger for food.