Wednesday, 20 January 2016


With great sensitivity the TV News Reader warns that we are about to see what we might find very disturbing. This ‘News Event’ might well be about many a place where people are starving – even in the back-alleys of the wealthy metropolitan countries.

The News Reader is being responsible – some people may not be able to cope with the ghastly sight of starving people, their emaciated bodies, their dull unaware gaze; and, worst of all, the virtually fleshless bodies of children.

I now want to move away from what I’ve seen on my T V screen and face up to what I meet as I walk the streets; what I hear about in casual conversations.

We live in the midst of people who are grossly undernourished, weak, shriveled with hunger. They would want to hide from me in shame; they have to try to catch my attention in desperation! They’re begging for something to eat – usually they want money so they can, with some self-respect, buy something for themselves.

Every day they live out the role of the wretched Lazarus in the parable of Jesus. Starving, he sat at the entrance of the house of Dives. This rich man cared not a thing for the one who would been overjoyed to receive even the left-overs from the meal. Jesus had to condemn such heartlessness.
Who, in our day, are you in this parable? Who am I? Probably, not Lazarus! Please God, not Dives!
For us Christians such self-questioning becomes embarrassing, discomforting. Jesus makes it so. He denies us the ‘cop-out’ of, ‘If I’d known it was you, Lord, begging in the streets, I’d have treated you like royalty!’

In His Famous Last Judgement Sermon Jesus demolishes our self-defense. He identifies Himself with the neglected sufferer.

For I was hungry and you never gave me food... In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me,’ (Mtt.25).
At a very basic level we can reduce this to, ‘I was a human being – just like yourself! And you let me starve when you could have done something about it. You showed me no mercy; you weren’t interested in me…only in your own concerns.’
His Last Judgement Pronouncement will be, ‘You will go away to eternal punishment’ - which amounts to, ‘I shall want nothing to do with you ever, never, again.’

Pope Francis sees the starvation issue to be so critical that he writes,
‘Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.’ (Message for Lent 2014).

I would like to think that you and I, without seeking to draw attention to ourselves, reach out to the hungry with friendly courtesy. Do we realize how much Jesus admires and loves us for this? He will say,
‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food. In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’

Let us pray,

Almighty Father, every single human being, old or young, rich or poor, is made in your image and likeness. Each of us is precious to you as your beloved child. Each of us is brother or sister to every single member of your human family, our human family.
And yet, we are divided by our prejudices. When we are self-centred we are likely become indifferent to those who lack the basic necessities for life – such food.
We now pray that, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, starting with ourselves, the whole human family will receive the grace from you to become more sensitive, more caring, more loving, and more merciful towards our hungry, starving, brothers and sisters.

For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Peter Clarke, O.P.
P.S. Next posting, "Giving drink to the thirsty..."










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