Friday, July 10, 2009

Novena Day Two: Feed the Hungry (July 11th)

The week before Thanksgiving and Christmas are very busy times at St. Luke's Mission of Mercy. Hundreds of volunteers from throughout our community and beyond descend upon the Mission and assist with the packing and distribution of thousands of bags of groceries, including all the fixings for holiday meals. Poultry, pies, potatoes, and other staples are organized and prepared for thousands of needy families and individuals.

It is an incredible scene: men, women and children packing, moving, wrapping, and carrying food meant to brighten the lives of those in poverty's grasp. The amount of manpower required for such an endeavor is incredible, and our volunteers step up to the proverbial plate. I, on the contrary, have the very best job anyone could ask for on such a day: I greet our volunteers, prepare them for service, and then spend a considerable amount of time sitting doing nothing. Oh, sure, I occasionally take a picture or two, sign service sheets for the students fulfilling volunteer requirements for their schools, direct wayward wanderers and such, but primarily I guard the donuts and coffee. They tend to be safest in my belly.

I am continually amazed at the enthusiasm of our volunteers. Youth groups, scouts, business teams, churches, hockey clubs; you name it, they're working. Sure, thousands will benefit directly from their service, and the community will get their fill of good, wholesome food. But the miracle is in the preparation. These are folks who have not known the pangs of hunger; they do not know the anguish of being unable to provide for one's children. They live comfortably by society's standards. They have jobs, cars, homes. And yet, despite countless other activities they could be doing, they come on a cold Saturday morning to spend hours working to provide food to someone they will never meet. They become selfless, full of charity and mercy for others. The busy-ness of the scene is a little glimpse of the strength of God's love manifested in service. It is amazing.

Throughout our community men, women and children go to bed without eating. They do not have the means to provide for their families. They hunger. Praise Jesus Christ for the gift of the poor, giving us the opportunity to love and serve him through the least of our brothers and sisters. God calls us to feed the hungry. This is not an abstract command; he asks us quite literally to put food on the table of those who have none. There are many ways to do so, whether personally assisting in projects such as the food give-aways like those at the Mission, assisting in soup kitchens and pantries, or giving of our own bounty to assist the good works of others.

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food...Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you...? And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:34-35, 37, 40

Prayer: St. Camillus, you selflessly put others before you, subjecting your needs to the needs of those you cared for. Pray that we, too, may recognize the face of Jesus in the poor. Help us to recognize the call to provide for the basic human necessities of our brothers and sisters. Give us the courage to look beyond our own comforts, needs and wants and be our companion as we walk with the love of Christ, serving those less fortunate. We ask this in the name of the Merciful Jesus. Amen.

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