March 22, 2015
A Christian: “Do you really believe and practice what you preach such as “Love your neighbor as yourself?”
Priest: “Yes I do.”
A Christian: “If you have two fields, wouldn’t you be willing to share one of them?
Priest: “Of course!”
A Christian: “And if you have two houses, you couldn’t live in both, so you’d be happy to share the other, wouldn’t you?”
Priest: “Oh, absolutely!”
A Christian: “If you have two cars, you would be willing to give one to your neighbor who has none, wouldn’t you?”
Priest: “Yes indeed!”
A Christian: “Suppose you have two horses, you would give one to your neighbor, wouldn’t you?”
Priest: “Absolutely yes!”
A Christian: “If you have 2 hundred dollar bills you would give one to a young mom who has none, wouldn’t you?
Priest: ‘No, I don’t think so.”
A Christian: “Why not?”
Priest: “Because I have two of them.”
I would like to thank all who have brought canned foods and dried foods to the church this week. We live in an affluent country and wonder why many people rely on the ‘Food Bank.’ “In March 2014, 841,191 people received food from food banks in Canada. Food bank use increased by 1% compared to the same period in 2013. It is dismaying that the number of people utilizing this service remains 25% higher than in 2008. This means that each and every month, 170,000 more people walk through the door of a food bank than was the case before the economic downturn.” (foodbankcanada.ca).
Why? “Without poverty, food banks would not need to exist. Whether because of a sudden illness, the loss of a job, family breakup, or other unexpected circumstances, every year hundreds of thousands of Canadians face a major loss of income and are unable to get the help they need to offset it.
Once one has fallen on hard times, it can be very difficult to climb back up. This is true for any person in Canada, and particularly for people managing long-term physical or mental health issues, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, immigrants, and refugees. The systems we have put in place to ensure individuals and families do not fall into destitution often fail to do the job, with people struggling without the necessities of life for too long.” (foodbankcanada.ca).
The good thing is, in Canada we have many generous people such as you. In our parish, besides the service of St. Vincent de Paul Society, your priest often answers the emergency calls during the night or weekend. In your name he supplies groceries for a family, buys a greyhound ticket, pays for a medical expense or puts gasoline in an empty tank. What would happen in other countries that do not have social services and systems like we have?
Every morning, my niece gets up at 4 am. She takes a look at her three young children sleeping and then goes to the kitchen. She begins to make noodles from rice flour that she milled the night before. It take 3 hours for the noodles to be ready. She divides noodles into 1 pound bags. At that time 2 older boys are ready to have breakfast, then she takes them to school on her scooter: 3 year old girl in the front, 10 and 7 year old boys at the back seat (4 people on a small scooter!). Her husband is a long distance truck driver. His salary is enough for them to live 10 days a month. After dropping the boys off at school, she goes back home and ties a large basket on the back seat of her scooter. She puts all the noodle bags into the basket and she and her baby girl begin a 3 hour journey as street vendors. They go to different open markets and streets to sell 40 bags of noodles. On a lucky day, all noodles are sold and they make 5-10 dollars out of it! If any noodles are left, they become their supper for the day. One day when I was home, one of the older boys called me “Great uncle, do you have anything to eat? I’m so tired of noodles!”
In the afternoon, all four of them go to my little farm. They collect whatever they can find, a fish, wild veggies, mushrooms, jackfruits, mangoes or cashews left after the season. If they can find anything, they sell it. Otherwise these things become their sustenance. The new day starts over again…
All being said, the situation of my niece’s family-as they can call on me-is much better than the situation of many other ordinary families in that area! The second reading this Sunday tells us: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears….”