A number of years ago, when I was teaching at Bishop McDevitt High School, I had the experience of assisting a team of teachers conducting a retreat for the junior class. That year, the campus minster decided to divide the class, so we had one day of retreat for the guys and another for the gals.
The retreat was scheduled for the early spring, and we decided to bus the students to a place that could provide some bonding time with nature and organized games, as well as time centered in prayer. Our venue for the retreat was St. Matthew Church in Dauphin. The students were told by the campus minister to brown bag their lunch. I was amused to see the large coolers that the girls backed for lunch. When our lunch break came, the girls piled everything they brought in the center of the table and everyone shared what they brought with everyone else. Needless to say, it reminded me of the feeding of the 5,000 because those girls who brought little or completely forgot to bring something left the table totally stuffed!
The experience of the boys’ lunch was quite different. When we arrived at St. Matthew’s, the priest chaplain for Bishop McDevitt explained the schedule for them. Around mid-morning, one of the students came to me, (I was the only female teacher present) and told me, with a forlorn look and patting his stomach, that he didn’t have any lunch with him. I retorted, “You were told to bring a lunch with you!” Sheepishly he responded, “Ah, Sister. It’s not cool walking through my neighborhood carrying your lunch!” Looking around, I saw how few of the guys had either a nap sack or a bag of food. Gathering them, I asked them, “How many of you do not have lunch with you?” To the chagrin of both the campus minister as well as the chaplain, most of the students raised their hand. As a result, “the mother” within me swung into action. I passed around a paper telling the guys to write their name along with how many pieces of pizza they wanted. I also collected $2 from each of them. With money in hand, one of the other chaperones went to the pizza store to purchase 25 pies!
I could not help thinking of this story as we focus on another aspect of “Give us our daily bread” found within the Lord’s Prayer. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “‘Our bread:’ the Father who gives us life cannot not but give us the nourishment life requires – all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual. …. Jesus insists on the filial trust that cooperates with our Father’s providence. He is not inviting us to idleness, but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God. …. [In addition to this, it also reminds us of] the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread. … The drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family.” (2830, 2831)
Both groups of students experienced want but handled it in different ways. The girls who needed lunch reached out to their community and were given what they needed. The guys, on the other hand, reached out to those in authority and begged. In the end, what they wanted was given to them.
This experience made me pause. How do I, on a daily basis, provide for the needs of others? Not only the needs of my family, but the needs of my co-workers and those in my neighborhood should be seen and known to me. Yes, I am aware that hunger of the poor will not be completely eradicated. However, this should not prevent me from doing what I honestly can do! Today!
In addition, our brothers and sisters around us not only hunger for food, they are also hungry for recognition, for love.
Give us this day our daily bread is all about providing for others. So, today, share some of your “lunch” with another!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness