By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Something to Eat

“You give them something to eat.”

As recorded in the Gospel of Sunday (cf. Matthew 14:13-21), these words were spoken by Jesus to his disciples when they saw the vast hungry crowds gathered around the Lord. The disciples wanted to send them away, but Jesus told them that they were to give the people something to satisfy their hunger.

This command of the Lord touches the essence of what it means to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus is entirely “for others.” He “emptied himself” (cf. Philippians 2:5-7) in obedience to the command of the Father and entered world history to save us by offering his life on the Cross. Anyone who lives in union with Christ as his follower, therefore, must be a person “for others”, one who seeks out the hungry and offers them “something to eat.”

Our television screens have been filled with images of countless numbers of people hungry for food, especially in the Horn of Africa. The Lord’s command to the disciples sounds forth today: “You give them something to eat.” We might protest that we have very little and would not make much of a difference. The disciples raised the same concern: “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” Jesus multiplied these meagre gifts such that there was more than enough for everyone. This means that when we give to others what little we have and do so by offering it to and through Jesus Christ, it will be more than enough.

If you have not already done so I encourage you to give to help those who are starving. Your gift can be given through the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace at www.devp.org. Thank you.

There are many “hungers” beyond the need for food that cry out to be satisfied, such as for justice and peace. This was the message I shared Sunday morning with nearly 500 young people who gathered in Edmonton this past weekend from all over Western Canada. Members of Youth for Christ, which is part of the Couples for Christ family, they came together over three days to reflect upon their life of faith. To be “for Christ” means inescapably to be “for others” and the way we are “for others” is to bring Christ to them. Since Jesus Christ is the Son of God made flesh for our sake, only He can fully satisfy our longing for love, for communion, for meaning and for peace. “You give them something to eat” thus becomes a call to witness before others to the joy and peace we have found through a life lived in union with Christ in the communion of His Church.

In the afternoon I gathered with a group of people deeply dedicated to the cause of life to bless the new location of the Edmonton Pregnancy Crisis Centre (EPCC). For twenty-seven years the good people of this organization have been “giving something to eat” to over fifteen thousand women who have sought their help and counsel. What “food” have they given? Well, for one thing they have fed people with communal support. Many women with unexpected pregnancies can feel alone and uncertain, and the EPCC exists to surround them with love and companionship so that they know they will have whatever support they need as they bring their child to birth. EPCC also feeds those who enter its doors with proper perspective, and this in at least two ways. First, in a society when life is not always accorded its proper dignity and protection, EPCC affirms the worth and beauty of every human life, from the very beginning to natural end. Second, they help people who are dealing with unplanned pregnancies to know that, in God’s design, the child within the womb is always part of God’s plan. As Pope Benedict said in his very first homily, every man, woman and child is the result of a thought of God. Therefore, in God’s heart each human being is never “unplanned” but always willed, loved and necessary. In these ways, EPCC nourishes its visitors with hope, which enables them to step into the future with courage and peace. You may wish to visit their website at www.edpregnancy.ca. I am very grateful to the women and men who give of themselves tirelessly in the service of life, and am particularly pleased to have EPCC present in the city of Edmonton.

“You give them something to eat.” Let’s be attentive to the many forms of hunger we encounter this week, and offer our resources, however great or small, through Christ, confident that, by His grace, what we have will be more than enough.