Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “It is in giving that we receive.” I believe that this is the whole idea behind the works of mercy. When we give food to the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit the imprisoned, we can truly receive just as much as the individuals we are assisting. Thus I believe that when we begin to recognize that the works of mercy are not just benefiting those we serve, but also truly ourselves, we begin to see these acts of service in a new light.
This month I was asked to discuss the corporal work of mercy of providing food for the hungry and drink for the thirsty. When I often think of this work, I immediately start thinking of the numerous food drives and ministries to assist the poor throughout my school, church, and community. It seems fairly accessible and easy to help. And so many of us do. Yet I think that if we look at this work of mercy only in the physical sense, we lose sight of some of its purpose. Indeed many individuals are in dire need of physical food and water throughout the world, but there is also a great need for spiritual food and water, for Christ’s Body and Blood itself. Many people are longing for something more in their life, but they are unsure exactly what they are searching for. However, as Catholics, we know that they are searching for the Eucharist. Just as Saint Augustine once said, “Our heart is restless until it rests in thee.” We are never fulfilled until we have found God in our lives.
So what does this have to do with me? How am I supposed to “lead others to the spiritual food and drink?” First off, I think that we each have an individual calling that we must listen to with the “ear of our heart.” While some individuals might be called to invite a friend to mass or share their faith story with another struggling individual, perhaps others are called to simply love our brothers and sisters more fervently, so that they may come to know Him through our actions. Furthermore, while it might seem easier to provide physical food and drink, during this Year of Mercy, I encourage us all to also listen to God’s call and act as His hands and feet to lead others to the spiritual food and drink, the Body and Blood of Christ. God Bless. — Lauren S.