Thursday, March 13, 2014

Feed The Hungry

I've mentioned before that Scott and I decided to focus on works of mercy as a family for the year 2014. We are extremely scattered people, so it wasn't as large an undertaking because there are 52 weeks in a year and 14 works of mercy. As Catholics we do not believe that we can work our way into heaven as many wrongly infer. However, we do believe that if a person has true faith, his works will bear fruit. The works of mercy is a list of ways we can serve our fellow man either physically in the Corporal Works of Mercy, or spiritually through the Spiritual works of Mercy. The works are as follows:
Corporal Works of Mercy
  1. To feed the hungry;
  2. To give drink to the thirsty;
  3. To clothe the naked;
  4. To harbour the harbourless; (or shelter to the homeless)
  5. To visit the sick;
  6. To ransom the captive;
  7. To bury the dead. 
Spiritual Works of Mercy
  1. To instruct the ignorant;
  2. To counsel the doubtful;
  3. To admonish sinners;
  4. To bear wrongs patiently;
  5. To forgive offences willingly;
  6. To comfort the afflicted;
  7. To pray for the living and the dead
The first work we tackled was to feed the hungry. As a mother, this is easy given how often I feed my children. The children were responsible for feeding their pets, Kona,  our dog, Gypsy,  our cat, and Gator Killer, the snake.  We also sent in can goods to the food pantry on Wednesday of that week, something we are guilty of forgetting though it is what the school does every week at the all school mass.

This was a very easy work to accomplish, but I thought that it was good to point that out to the kids. Sometimes what God asks us to do to serve each other isn't earth moving. Sometimes God just wants us to do something, even if it is a small thing, to serve one another. It also made me realize that I often feel inappropriate guilt that I am not out handing out sandwiches to the homeless. I am a mother and therefore many of these works will be built into my daily living. It is good to make certain I go outside of my routine to be of service, but it is also important to really see the work I do as service to others. If I do not, I run the risk of feeling bitter and keeping score. Thoughts of "Don't these rotten kids see everything I do for them? Why is it never enough?" can invade our hearts if we do not have the eyes to see the good we do.

There is another point I like to make when I chat with people about donating food to the food pantry. Many of my friends get frustrated that their families are on a budget, while it seems like the people who are "takers" have no appreciation, and in fact, have an entitlement problem. My friends, who cares what the disposition of the hearts of those who receive our gifts are? When we serve one another, there is no guarantee that we will be appreciated, but it seems we as human are inclined to keep score anyway. When we feed the hungry we ought to consider how God sees it, rather than how the recipient sees it. I personally can not tolerate the idea that a person went hungry when I could have done something to help. It's why I give money to those who ask for it, even if I am convinced they will use it for drugs. I can not help what a man will do with what I have offered, but I can help myself be more compassionate toward those who are in need.

As we continue to explore the works of mercy, I think it will become obvious that feeding the hungry is one of the easiest works to accomplish. Feeding the birds, our families, or donating to a food pantry can be done with zero discomfort. If you are looking for a place to start being merciful to your fellow man, I suggest this one. You will be surprised how easy it is to pick up the tab for someone else's bagel and coffee, and how often you consider it. Feel free to share in the comments any ideas you have on ways to feed the hungry. We are discovering that there are seemingly infinite ways to accomplish our works of mercy, and we love hearing about things we haven't thought about.

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