Tag Archives: hunger

27 June, Shared Table IX: The Blessing of Hunger.

 

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I had been ill. Ill enough to give up work and move back home to recover. I’d lost a tremendous amount of weight: an infection had gone crazy, affecting my liver function and leaving me exhausted and without appetite.

Then one day I was sitting at the big kitchen table with my grandmother – Nana to countless young people, by no means all of them her actual grandchildren. Basil and Sam the dogs were keeping us company.

Suddenly I realised that I felt hungry, for the first time in months, and said so to Nana. ‘Feed that hunger’, she said, and put bread on the Aga cooker to toast. Wow! I could taste the good bread, the butter, the marmalade. I was grateful: an informal Eucharist.

As Fr Austin (AMcC who writes here) says, hunger can be a blessing. In this case my body was well enough to feel the need of something outside itself, instead of fighting something inside itself. It took time, but I did get better.

There are other hungers too; hungers for learning, for love, ultimately for God. We need to acknowledge these when we feel them.

But as Austin would also tell us, hunger for many people is a curse; they do not have the luxury of knowing where the next meal is coming from. Perhaps, if you are a child at school in Africa, it will be from Mary’s Meals.

MMB.

 

 

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March 20: A Sandwich for Saint Cuthbert

_Cuthbert.Durham

March 20 is the feast of St Cuthbert, who died on this day in 687. There is a story that one Friday, the bishop of Lindisfarne, Saint Cuthbert was welcomed into an isolated farmstead by a woman who offered to feed him and his horse. ‘Stay and eat’, she said, ‘for you won’t reach home tonight.’ But Cuthbert would not break his Friday fast, so he rested a while, let her care for his horse, and pressed on his way. It got dark well before he was in sight of home so he found shelter in a tumbledown, empty, isolated shepherd’s hut.

Here his horse began to pull down the thatch of the roof to have something to eat, but even Cuthbert could not see thatch as food for a man, however hungry he might be. The horse carried on attacking the roof, making the best of what was available in this wild place. As it pulled at the thatch, a packet fell to the floor; when the good bishop opened it he found bread and meat, the meat still warm. He shared the loaf with his beast as he gave thanks to God. How did the meal get there? Was it concealed by the hospitable woman as she tended his horse back at the farm? Cuthbert did not know, but he was happy to eat what was provided after his day of fasting had finished – for like the Muslims at Ramadan today, he would have counted sunset as the day’s end.

In Muslim countries today, many Christians will observe the fast in solidarity with their neighbours. So  let us enjoy our sandwiches – yes, even in this season of Lent – to thank the Lord who provides the food, as Cuthbert did, and to share in the ministry of hospitality, like the woman on the farmstead.

Cuthbert in a wall painting at Durham Cathedral.

Please remember in your prayers Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB, sometime Abbot of Quarr, who died on January 16, 2017. He was from Saint Cuthbert’s diocese and was ministering there when he fell sick and died.                         Will T.

Photo from thepelicans.org.uk where you can read Abbot Cuthbert’s obituary and an address he gave for the Missionaries of Africa to whom he remained close. http://thepelicans.org.uk/obituaries/obits24.htm#pjohnson

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22 December: This birth was hard

 

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It’s easy to feel smugly indignant at the commercialisation of Christmas and attempts to create an official Winter Holiday instead. I wonder whether that is a greater threat to the truth of Christmas than sentimental carols, sung unheedingly? Christmas is, as Mary herself said when she met Elizabeth before their sons were born:

He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly;

He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty.

Luke 1: 52-53.

Here is one mighty one, years later, most uneasy on his throne, cast down even:

 … this birth

Was hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to  our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people, clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi.

Clutching their gods? We are tattooed on God’s hand (Isaiah 49:15); he hold us, gently. May we know his presence  every day, seeing him in the eyes of every person we meet.

MMB.

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16 December: What can I do?

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Isaiah the prophet challenges us today in the first reading to ‘have a care for justice and keep away from evil’.

Listening to what is happening in world today, it seems there is no justice anywhere and everywhere is full of different kinds of evil. There are so many wars, hunger, illnesses, killings, displacement etc being faced by many people.  Every created thing seeks for justice and fairness. I often wonder where God is in all this. When I reflect on various areas in which injustices are being perpetuated in our world, I weep and feel powerless.

When I consider further, I tell myself I can make a difference in whatever little way is possible for me.  I can speak out for those who are unjustly mistreated. I can write to MPs supporting proposals that promote fair treatment for all.  I can stand up for the truth no matter what it will cost me.  I can also pray for a change of heart for those who no longer seek for God’s justice but rather for punishment without mercy. If I see injustice around me, I can try to be, by following Jesus’ example, a light that shines for all to see.

I pray that in my everyday activities, I will do my best to detach myself from anything that does not promote goodness. I ask God to help me make sure that people and other creatures are treated with fairness, and never trample on them because I have the power and resources to do so.

Come Lord Jesus, Sun of Justice!

FMSL

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27th June: Doors come in all shapes and sizes

When we were in Scotland last year, this boat took us to Skye. The bow door opens down to allow vehicles to ‘roll-on, roll-off’ between the two Islands of Skye and Great Britain. The Highlands and Islands were both brave new worlds for me but this was an everyday voyage for the crew and many of the passengers.

When we reached Skye, the bus was waiting to take us on, as promised in the timetable; and so it went on, rain and shine, through the two Kingdoms till we were home again. When people work together they can achieve great blessings and mercies for each other.

Once a crew of experienced boatmen were surprised by a storm; their passenger slept through mercylogoit all. They were worried to death; the passenger calmed the storm. (Mark 4:35-41) Our ferries today are  safe, at least in Europe, but those cockle-shells and inflatables used by refugees in the Mediterranean are much less safe than the disciples’ craft on the Sea of Galilee.

Let us pray for God’s mercy that the storms of famine, war and cruelty may be stilled, allowing these people to stay at home in peace to build up their communities. And let us pray for the wisdom to know how best to help them and the courage to do just that.

 

 

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Friday 24th June: Bear Fruit Worthy of Repentance!

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FMSL

‘BEAR FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE!’ (Matthew 3:8)

mercylogoToday we are celebrating the feast of Saint John the Baptist. So today we can spend a little time to meditate on God’s mercy through the words of the Baptist. Always and especially in this year we are continually listening the proclamation of the mercy of God. In the Bible we can see that after the proclamation of Saint John the Baptist thousands of people confessed their sins and converted their life.

Now we may be confessing our sins and receiving God’s mercy in different ways. Is it enough? Is God expecting anything more from us? Can we do anything to please God or to express our gratitude? Let us listen to the words of Saint John the Baptist. He instructed all the people who received God’s mercy and converted their life, ‘BEAR FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE’ (Matthew 3:8).

How can we bear fruit?  We are not able to feed all those who are hungry. We have human limitations. We are not able to do many things. Then what can we do? We can behave mercifully to all those who are weak.  We can overcome our judgmental attitude to all people. We can give love to those who are sick and needy. We can spend our time to spread Word of God. Perhaps we can even dedicate our lives to it like Saint John the Baptist. Without any blaming, Jesus has accepted us. We have received enough mercy from God and freely, so Jesus says, ‘GO AND DO LIKEWISE’.

FMSL

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13 June, year of Mercy: Mercy in Ruins

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mercylogoWhen we travel, we hope that when the heat gets too much or we feel hungry and thirsty, God’s Providence may bring us a friendly face and a chance of hospitality. But tourism takes us through areas of ruined classical cities, where once was a lively population and hospitality was likely. However, that population died long ago, and all they have left is the skeleton of a dwelling. This picture reminds me of a similar doorway, to a house which no longer existed, when I visited Athens in my late teens, when a military junta ruled Greece.

I had taken a bus from the airport into Athens in the early hours. By five in the morning it was light, and beginning to be warmer. I had planned to visit the Parthenon before the crowds arrived, so I sat down on the step in front of a doorway like this to gather my wits for the climb up the hill. But there was an old wooden door in the doorway, and this suddenly opened behind me. A fellow traveller, an American I think, emerged, wished me good morning and went on his way. He had slept the night behind a door and a door frame.

It was a comical, theatrical moment, as if an ancient Greek house servant had come back to life to greet me.  Like Silas and St. Paul, I was wondering what signs or messengers might show up in my dreams, to send me off on a more purposeful path.

 

CD.

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Advent hitch hiking reflection 3

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Advent is not only about hoping…it is also about waiting for hope’s fulfilment. Our culture seems to have little patience with what cannot be immediately grasped. This is old news and the weary litany is far too familiar; charge cards, cheap ugly buildings, drive through churches, drug abuse, sex as sport and countless other flash fires of immature desires terrified by limits. The awful irony is that desire has no limits and was not originally intended to. I have fallen into the trap many times. I possess a terrible hunger in the depth of my being and the endurance of that hunger scandalizes my humanity. I am convinced, on some primal level, that it would not only make me feel better to be filled but that it is also somehow my right. This is only partly true and, in its fractured state, is very dangerous. It takes a question to establish some perspective; filled with what? In the starving delirium induced by unfulfilled desires I might hastily fill myself with many things.

A hitch hiker begins a journey. He is impatient to reach his destination and filled with the pleasant anticipation of journey’s end. The day seems to be lucky as he is picked up very quickly and taken many miles. While sitting in someone else’s car he watches the world fly by and rejoices in the fulfilment of his purpose. That particular ride comes to an end all too soon and he is dropped off in a desolate spot of unfriendly faces and little traffic. He begins to wait. At first the waiting is agreeable. It soon becomes an ordeal as he begins to endure an assault upon his fragile hope. The sun is too hot and his view is taken up by the uncompromising dreariness of shimmering asphalt. His social isolation under the hard sky awakens a gnawing loneliness and he becomes weak with a hunger he can’t name. He tries to understand the origin of his suffering and begins to silently curse the drivers who look away from him. His heart, far from being empty, is filled with violence and misery.

Waiting is an uncompromising companion and her company is difficult to accept. Is it possible to cherish such a tenacious embrace? Her conversation tends toward subtlety but her faithfulness is beyond reproach. She is not unsympathetic though she can be very demanding. Above all, she is honest. Waiting, when she is feeling sociable, travels with a companion named Discernment who is also rather serious in temperament, but not quite so taciturn. Together they patiently reveal a truth all the more startling in that it comes from such a prosaic pair. Desire, they insist, is Holy. Deeply felt desire is the perpetual reminder of what it really means to be human. It represents a memory so ancient it exists on the outer perimeter of articulation. Desire remembers a time when we were not hungry and weeps. Waiting stands ready, with clear eyes and a steady heart, to take the tear- blinded traveller firmly by the hand. She assures him that he is not alone. She understands, when he is consumed by doubt, where it is he wants to go, and she promises to remain with him until, at last, he arrives. TJH

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Life in the fast lane

A deserted lochside, but for the Church.

A deserted lochside, but for the Church.

It seems to me ironic that the Yuletide feast begins, these days, around the middle of November.  Seasons of penitential purple should, in some ways, be hungry affairs; an open reminder that we all stand as beggars at the Lord’s table.

When Jesus fed the five thousand they were, I believe, impressed for two reasons. Obviously the dissolution of the wall, which separates nature from supernature, was something to write home about. What is sometimes overlooked, though, is the very real hunger in that place.

When the Apostle remarked that the multitude had nothing to eat he was, perhaps, saying more than he intended. Certainly the crowd had fasted that day. Many had fasted for their entire lives. Food was a precious commodity in a desert land and no harvest, however bountiful, was proof against starvation. Roman soldiers returning to barracks or out on a foray often simply took everything the people had. And if, by some chance, the strong provider failed? Did anyone ever count the widows and orphans found dead in the roadside ditches of ancient Palestine?

Those listening to Jesus on that long ago day believed that God saw it all. They wanted to believe that God cared. How amazed they must have been when the power of God filled, not only their hearts, but also their bellies. TJH

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