Tuesday, 20 September 2011 13:57
Perhaps the most inspiring Gospel story for all of us who are trying to be true, practicing Christians is the one where Jesus of Nazareth instructs his disciples to feed the hungry. As the story is told, we see Him in the remote countryside teaching the people. His revolutionary message of peace, love, generosity and self sacrifice is shocking some and inspiring others.
He told them that life could be different, that change is possible, that we have free choice to shape our own destiny and find and unite with the power of “eternal love and goodness” .We can work and succeed in the spiritual and social transformation of society.
He taught them and us that all of us are made in the image and likeness of “Eternal Goodness” and that goodness can be found in each other. All people, he said, have a right to a life of equality, of rights and dignity.
In that tree-sheltered grassy olive grove, thousands had gathered; men and women, rich and poor, upper, middle, and lower class, the sick, the blind, the disabled. There too were the outcasts, the untouchables; they stood to the side ashamed and afraid to come close to the crowd being scorned, unwanted and abused, and diseased people. To these downtrodden people without a possession in the world reduced to begging for daily subsistence, Jesus of Nazareth came, and for them, he risked himself with words of welcome and inclusion that shook them to their core.
”Hey! You people over there behind the tree, come here, don’t be ashamed, there is nothing to be ashamed of. All that is said about you is not true. Know that God cares for you and sent me to change things around and to tell you the truth. Blessed are you poor, the Kingdom of God is for you....happy are you who are so hungry now, you will be filled and all of you who are crying, you will be happy, and will laugh. Even when people hate you, reject you and insult you because I am standing with you, then dance with joy - a great reward will be yours.”
The huddled beggars and outcasts turned to each other in their filthy rags and dirt, there being no one else to turn to, and asked, “how could it be true when we are so poor and miserable without happiness and enduring the world’s hatred and rejection and he is telling us that we are blessed and the Kingdom of God is for us. We know and can see it is for the rich and the privileged and the well-fed priests. We cannot believe this Jesus from Nazareth, we are truly nothing and will remain nothing, there will be no change for us.” But there was.
He waved and called to his disciples, ”bring them over here and the children also, don’t stop them, unless we are as innocent as them we can’t approach God.” Some of the rich ruling elites, those from the priestly hierarchy who had given themselves the position of privilege close to the teacher were shocked, disgusted and humiliated, they gathered up their robes and scuttled away from the approaching shuffling group of beggars and diseased people that took the front row beaming with pride. They had become number one.
“Teacher, we have to send all away now”, the disciples said. “Thousands of people are hungry and we have no food”, but Jesus calmly told them, “You feed them!” They were shocked. “How can we feed so many when we only have two fish and five loaves and that's our lunch and we¹re hungry also?”
“Never mind, give out what you have, that will be an example to others, they might share too.” And so they did, all that had selfishly hidden their lunch packs in their bags and robes saw what the disciples did and brought them out and shared with those that had none. There was enough food for all.
Sharing is what we need more of, especially for the starving children of Somalia.
By Father Shay Cullen
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