17 April, Friday – Have you anything to eat?

Acts 4: 1-12
Jn 21: 1-14

Children, have you caught anything to eat?

The question that Jesus asked His disciples, “have you anything to eat?”, is a question that I have heard several times when I was living in the US. In the city where I lived and worked, there were often homeless people around. And they would often ask if I had some spare change and anything to eat. In most instances, I would hurry by or drop a couple of coins in their cups. But one night, after a prayer group session at my parish, a few of us decided to go around giving out food to the homeless. We would typically order pizza or cook up a simple pot of pasta for these sessions, and there was always leftovers. So we decided to set aside some food and give it out to the homeless.

As we walked around giving out the food, we also found ourselves inadvertently striking up conversations with these homeless people. In some instances, we would leave the food next to someone who was bundled up for the winter night under layers of garments and blankets. But in most instances, we found ourselves spending time talking to the homeless. It was then that it occurred to me — the poor and homeless are not simply asking for food or money when they ask “have you anything to eat?”. They are also asking for spiritual food and friendship. Certainly, Jesus had said that ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ (Matthew 4:4). So it is that we should not only be focused on giving material resources to others, but our presence and friendship as well.

When we start thinking about the hungry and needy in this intangible way, it also quickly becomes clear to us that it is not only the homeless who are starving for love and companionship. It is also our children, our spouses, our parents and our friends. How often have we caught ourselves scrolling through Facebook on our mobile phones or replying those intermittent emails, only to miss out on our children’s calls for attention or a loved one’s attempt to start a conversation? It has been said that charity begins at home. When we say charity, we are not simply thinking in terms of voluntary work. We are also thinking, in the Christian sense, of charity as love (or ‘caritas’). How could we possibly seek to love others, if we have trouble loving those closest to us first? This season of isolation and lockdown is the perfect opportunity for us to practice charity at home.

(Today’s Oxygen by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for Your continued love and presence, so that we too may reflect Your love and presence to others around us.

Thanksgiving: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3)

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