Living out God’s vision of a world without hunger

Every summer I look forward to embracing the fall season. As the morning air crisps, I wake up relieved.  The days shorten into longer, cooler evenings.  The light softens and becomes a bit hazier.  Meals are bit warmer, spicier, and filling. Fall is a season of feasts.  Here in the United States, we have a national holiday that embraces, with enthusiasm, this thought.  This leads me to believe I am not alone in my association of fall and feasts.

The gospel story for Sunday, October 15, while featuring an invitation to a feast is complicated and somewhat gruesome.  It is the gospel parable of a king who invites guests to a wedding feast for his son.  The guests refuse to attend.  The king then issues more invitations to a wider array of people.  Those invites are refused and his messengers are killed.  Again, the king is so insistent people should come to the wedding feast that invites are issued to those in the streets. When a guest shows up not being properly attired, the king has him bound up and dragged away.  “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The wedding feast is a popular image that is used to connote the kingdom of heaven throughout the Bible. In this Gospel from Matthew, we make a connection – the king issuing invites to his son’s wedding is God, inviting us to participate in a life with Jesus Christ, his son.  Of course, all of us are invited to participate in a life with Jesus, but many refuse.  Further, those who do wish to participate, those who say, “Yes,” are required to participate fully.  It is not enough to just show up.  We need to properly prepare!

We must attend to the wishes of our King, and one of his commands is that we feed the hungry. In today’s world, we know that there are many people who are hungry, spiritually and physically. We are called to continually prepare our hearts and ask ourselves whether we are living into the mandate to care for all our brothers and sisters: Who is going hungry? What are we doing to ensure that others are fed?  Are there policies that are preventing people from getting food?  How are we answering these questions?

Advocates in the Diocese of Joliet prepare to delivery more than 5,000 letters to Congressional Leaders at Lobby Day

One way that we can answer is by participating in the work of Bread for the World, an organization that acts as a collective Christian voice urging decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.  This year we are marking Sunday, October 15 as Bread for the World Sunday.  This is an opportunity for your church or community to join with others in living out God’s vision of a world without hunger.

St. Louis Catholic Church in Pinecrest, Florida has been a covenant church with Bread for the World for decades. They collect an Offering of Letters with the full support of their pastor.  In May, parishioners wrote and signed a total of 1,976 unique letters to their congressional leaders.  1,672 letters came from adult members of the parish, while 304 letters were written by students from the attached parish school.

Another example is Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown, next to Washington, D.C.  The parish had five people participate in Lobby Day in June.  These Bread for the World members brought around 300 letters that were collected and signed by parishioners from pre-printed postcards.

There are many ways you can participate in the advocacy on behalf of people who are hungry with Bread for the World. Here are a few:

Genevieve Mougey is the Senior National Associate for Roman Catholic Engagement at Bread for the World in Washington, D.C.  She has worked in Catholic advocacy social justice ministries, campus ministry and parish ministry for the past 15 years.  Previously, she was the Poverty Outreach and Education Manager at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in Washington, D.C.

Going Deeper!

Learn how New York Catholics wrote thousands of letters on child hunger to their members of Congress as part of their Offering of Letters. You, too, can participate!

Lent: A Scriptural Way of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

Lent was always a bit of a hard sell for me growing up.

Advent? I was totally on board with that! Advent Angels (those little trinkets that built up anticipation for a tirade of presents….er…I mean the birth of Jesus), gathering around the Advent wreath for nightly prayers, beautiful decorations, crèches around the house and a big one at church, all made it easy for the imagination to run wild with the season.

Lent held no pre-packaged beauty for me. The only cloth in the church was a purple swatch and a garish burlap draped over a crude cross placed in the narthex. The one event that did pique my interest was the Stations of the Cross. Participation in the Stations got our Catholic school classes out early to go and pray, followed by early dismissal. As I got older and went to college, this prayer became a shared experience with friends and an opportunity to recall memories of which version we each used growing up.

Adult life has in many ways flipped the script. Don’t misunderstand – I still appreciate Advent. But I find in my life today a more tender appreciation for Lent and what it’s come to mean to me. How I engage this desert time is a direct reflection of where I am in my own journey with Jesus, and in our journey together in the Church and world. Lent is a returning to what I know will remind me of the mystery, trials and reality of Jesus’ journey.

Lent has become a time of quietness. I am an extrovert who loves to be around people all the time. But Lent calls me to deeper relationships in quiet moments with one person at a time. Lent calls me to draw closer to the Scriptures, to remind me to rend my heart, not my possessions.

The USCCB Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development has developed a Scriptural Way of Cross.  This Lent, make the effort to find some quiet time with Jesus, perhaps with friends, and reflect on the last days of his life. There are group reflections, art, prayers and questions to help you along your Lenten journey.

Genevieve Mougey, M.Div., is manager for poverty education & outreach at the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development.