Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Hungry Among Us
The highlight of the past week was found in volunteer service with St. Benedict the Moor parish’s community meal program. St. Ben’s community meal as well as other outreach programs represent ministries sponsored by the local Capuchin Friars (Franciscans). Each week, over 2,000 guests are served at the meal (dinner) which operates from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The night upon which my eleven seminarian brothers and I served included 287 guests, many of them homeless, some chronically poor, and others among the working poor. Roughly two-thirds appeared to be single adults, female and male, with the remaining number being couples of whom many had brought along their children. As we busied ourselves “busing” tables, pouring drinks and carrying trays, we were all mindful that for many guests, this was the best, if not the only, meal of their day. (And the volume of food was quite substantial: pasta, green beans, salad, fruit and dessert.)
Somehow this experience, like so many other similar ones, left me both grateful as well as grace-filled. My gratitude originated in the certain knowledge that I would have access to three meals, a warm bed, and other material comforts on this and upcoming days. The grace-filled moments were found in the conversations, however brief, with those guests willing to share their own unique story.
Matthew 25:31-46 paints a portrait of the final judgment in which the Matthean Jesus urges his followers to feed the hungry; welcome the stranger; clothe the naked; and to visit the imprisoned. Being with the guests at St. Ben’s was an important reminder of my own Lenten adventure, a particular time of almsgiving, prayer and fasting...
Meanwhile, as I write this post, I am also reminded that two Commonwealth basketball teams, both a red- as well as a blue-painted one, are still prominently represented in the NCAA tournament. Best wishes to the fans of both Big Blue and Cardinal Red!