Today’s lectionary readings are, in part, about food. Isaiah (25: 6-10) shows God preparing ”a feast of rich foods and choice wines” for all peoples. And Jesus, in Matthew 15: 29-37), feels so much for the people that he has his disciples distribute seven loaves and a few fish and four thousand men eat, (not counting women and children” (Matthew 15:28).
God wants people to eat. He wants all to share in the banquet of creation. But in our world there are so many who do not have enough to eat.
For some this is due to the lack of work; here, in Central America, it is also often due to the lack of land to work. A few own most of the land and those who would work the land have little land. And so hunger afflicts many, especially between May and August when the grains they stored at the end of the harvest run out and they await the upcoming harvest.
But God wants all to eat and offers that as a vision.
There is a hymn from El Salvador that shares this vision.
Vamos todos al banquete,
a la mesa de la creación –
cada cual con su taburete,
tiene un puesto y una misión.
Dios invita a todos los pobres
a esta mesa común por la fe,
donde no hay acaparadores
y a nadie le falta el conqué.
Dios nos manda a hacer de este mundo
una mesa donde haya igualdad,
trabajando y luchando juntos,
compartiendo la propiedad.
Let us all go to the banquet,
to the table of creation,
where everyone has a stool,
with a seat and a mission.
God invites all the poor
to this common table, with faith,
where there are none who hoard
and where nobody lacks more than tortillas.
God invites us to make of this world
a table where there is no inequality,
working and struggling together,
sharing our property.
That’s the vision of today’s readings – but it’s a vision where we all have the call to see that all are fed.
But we must do it with a spirit of love, even asking forgiveness from the poor. As St. Vincent de Paul wrote:
You will find that charity is a heavy burden to carry,
heavier than the kettle of soup and the basket of bread.
But you must keep your gentleness and your smile.
Giving soup and bread isn’t all that the rich can do.
The poor are your master, terribly sensitive, and exacting, as you will see.
But the uglier and the dirtier they are, the more unjust and bitter,
the more you must give them your love.
It is only because of your love — only your love —
that the poor will forgive you the bread you give them.