As we enter into the season of Lent, we will be sharing weekly reflections written by our President and CEO, Art Bennett. Today, Art connects the mercy we experience from our personal Lenten fast and the mercy we show when feeding the hungry.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” –Matthew 6:25-26
As we enter into Lent tomorrow, we have a great opportunity to examine our lives: what changes can we make to reunite with Christ and return to Gospel living, our road map to reality. Christ reminds us that people are not objects, things, resources or even just sophisticated animals. We are persons made in His image and likeness. We are free to live responsibly and happily with charity, solidarity, faith, and goodwill.
As we begin our Lenten fast, we are reminded that though we are in the world and require food to live, we are not of the world. We need something even greater to sustain us: the love and grace of God the Father.
As we read St. Matthew’s words above … your heavenly Father feeds them … we should not regard this as indifference to others and the poor. Instead, we should contemplate Pope Francis’ reminder that “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s Mercy.”
It is our job to show the face of the Father’s mercy by acting as Christ did. Let’s not worry so much about ourselves, but rather attend with delicate charity to those who are poor and needy and desperate to encounter Christ’s love through us. This is the reality the Church calls solidarity.
Pope Francis acknowledges that solidarity can cause distress. It reminds us that we are our brother’s keeper and that we are obligated to treat the poor and disheartened with dignity.
Giving poor families and individuals food when they need it is one crucial way of acknowledging their dignity as persons.
At Catholic Charities, we started the St. Lucy Food Project so that we, members of the Body of Christ, can exercise our role in bringing food to the more than 50 food pantries in our Diocese – almost half are food pantries right on our parish campuses – to feed the tens of thousands in our Diocese who are food deprived.
(Learn more about the St. Lucy Food Project by watching our video.)
Last year we gave more than 700,000 lbs. of food to all regions of the Diocese, usually through the generosity of our 69 diocesan parishes. Bringing food to the hungry radiates God’s mercy and fights the culture that wishes to marginalize the poor.
So let this Lent be one of personal fasting while simultaneously reaching out to others who need food. It’s a beautiful redirect as we are blessed by God’s mercy and are given the grace to pass that mercy on to others in need. Lent is made for such an exchange.
This Lent, you can show mercy to others who need food by bringing food to one of our parish food drives, parish pantries or our four Catholic Charities pantries. Or, you can make a financial contribution to the St. Lucy Food Project so we can buy fresh, frozen and canned food for pennies on the dollar through our participation in local food banks. You can also make a gift of your time by volunteering with Catholic Charities by signing up on our volunteer web page.