by Father Mark Goldasich
This year, I was ready for them. Not knowing how many I’d be dealing with, I prepared three large bags just in case.
The “company” I was expecting were sixth to twelfth graders from our religious education program. They were divided into several teams and sent out on a scavenger hunt the night of Sept. 27. The kids were not collecting some meaningless knickknacks but were on the hunt for nonperishable items that would be donated to the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank here in Tonganoxie, an effort supported by all the local churches.
As it turned out, only one group hit my home, so I ended up taking the other bags I’d had ready to the parish center the next day. The kids did a great job and filled up the back of a truck bed with their collected donations. They had fun and at the same time fed the hungry, fulfilling one of the corporal works of mercy.
Reflecting on the generosity of these students in giving their time to the scavenger hunt as well as the willingness of parishioners to donate items, I recalled this ancient legend:
One day, the devil, the Master of Disguise, tried to get into heaven by pretending to be the risen Lord. He took demons with him disguised as angels of light and had them cry out the traditional first part of Psalm 24: “Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”
The real angels looked down on what they thought was their Lord returning in triumph from the dead. They in turn shouted back with joy the psalm’s refrain: “Who is this King of glory?”
The devil then made a fatal mistake. He opened his arms, spread his hands and declared, “I am!”
The angels immediately slammed shut the gates of heaven and refused to let the imposter in. They saw right away that there were no nail marks in his palms. The imposter had no wounds of love, had not paid the cost. (Story found in William J. Bausch’s “A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers.”)
As followers of Jesus, we are to have his hands. Although we don’t have the actual stigmata, spiritually our palms should have “holes” in them. We are called to have these wounds of love where the blessings we receive from the Lord generously “leak out” to those most in need, both close by and far away.
On Monday, Oct. 16, we celebrate World Food Day. Its theme this year is: “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind.” The statistics quoted on the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s website are disturbing: Some 2.4 billion people live in water-stressed areas while one billion tons of food — about 17% of all food available to consumers worldwide — are thrown away each year.
We Christians especially are called to be good stewards of the earth. Here are some practical ways to honor World Food Day:
• Conserve water by taking shorter showers, not letting the tap run and fixing leaky pipes.
• Reduce food waste.
• Buy fish that has been caught or farmed sustainably.
• Don’t pollute water by pouring oils, medicines or chemicals down the drain.
• Help with cleanups of local rivers and lakes.
• Save energy, as it requires a lot of water to produce. Shut off lights when not being used as well as electronic devices.
• Eat more fresh foods as they are not only healthier but take less water to produce.
Perhaps the easiest way to celebrate World Food Day is to remember it throughout the year. When out grocery shopping, pick up some supplies to donate to your local food pantry or to Catholic Charities. Sadly, there is never not a need.
Our extravagant generosity toward those most in need will, by the grace of God, transform our “holey” hands into ones that are truly holy.