On this Sunday, all the scriptures (Is 25:6-10A, Philip 4:12-14, 19-20, Mt 22:1-14) reference food. I invite you to read and reflect on them in relation to our times.
According to the U.S.D.A, there over 37 million people in the United States, that is equivelant to the entire population of Texas and Arizona, who are food insecure. These individuals and families go hungry or eat low quality food because of the lack of money and other resources. The pandemic has made the situation worst. Conservative estimates indicate that 1 in 8 Americans do not have enough food to eat. Think about that for a moment. One out of eight people you will encounter today is food insecure.
Christians have a responsibility to be generous to the community at all times but especially in times of need. People are in need for food. That gives us an opportunity to be generous, to share in their distress. That is what God desires from us. There is no doubt that our prayers are important, but our generosity is what pleases Jesus and those in need: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). Paul confirmed Jesus’ command when he said to the Philippians: “I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry…. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress” (Phil 4: 12-13).
Recently, I read a Jewish story about generosity which captures today’s themes. The story says that “in hell, people sit around a great banquet table piled high with food. Each person is given a fork six food in length, far too long for them to maneuver into their mouths. They are starving. In heaven, on the other hand, people sit around exactly the same banquet. But in heaven each feeds the person across the table. And in so doing, all are filled” (Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path to Mussar).
I encourage you today to take a moment to think about how you can help people experiencing food insecurity. Can you make a contribution – money or time – to an organization like Catholic Charities or your local food bank? Can you spare a coin to someone in need? Can you make that a habit? How can you influence our government, civic, and religious institutions to help those suffering from food insecurity?
Finally, I pray to God that if you are suffering from food insecurity that He guards your hope. That you keep Paul’s words in your heart: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Trust in Isaiah’s words: “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all people a feast of rich food and choice of wines” (Is 25:6). That you accept Jesus’ invitation to “come to the feast” of the Eucharist.
Sharing the loaves and fishes,
You gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.
Sharing yourself in the bread and wine,
You called all to the table, O Lord.
Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding
And the healing of this world.
Nourish me with your Grace,
So I may work with joy to serve your children.
Open my eyes and my heart
To recognize those in poverty
And increase my awareness
Of the structures and systems
That need to be changed
So we may all break bread together.
In your name we pray for the end of hunger.
- Prayer for the End of Hunger, Jesuit Resource Education for Justice
May God bless you.