Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday Reflection: Charity and Justice Both Needed to End Hunger

I was asked about the reflection I shared at the Urban Way of the Cross on Good Friday (since my post was about everyone else). Here is my text:

First Station: Food Insecurity
(Location: Main Library)
When we think of hunger and hungry people, one of the the first thoughts that comes to mind is the men and women and children standing in line every Sunday afternoon to get a hot meal at Immaculate Conception church. Or perhaps we might think about the families who must walk or take the bus to get a food box from The Storehouse.

These are just a couple of the very visible ways in which hunger and food insecurity appear in our community.

But many times, hunger is not as obvious. What about the third-grade child who is not able to pay attention in class because he or she did not eat breakfast? Or the family whose food stamps run out before the end of the month? Or the elderly woman who must choose between paying her utility bill and buying nutritious food. Or the families on limited income in the rural communities in New Mexico who must spend 10 dollars for a gallon of milk.

Hunger is a very real problem in our state. According to a report conducted by Roadrunner Food Bank and its parent organization Feeding America, nearly 19 percent of New Mexican are food insecure. In other words, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. And another report shows that nearly 147 thousand children—29 percent of all children in the state—are hungry.

In a country as wealthy as ours, this situation is intolerable.

There are two ways to respond to hunger, both legitimate and necessary. The first response is charity. We can take such actions as donating to The Storehouse and Roadrunner Food Bank or volunteering at Project Share, the Rio Grande Food Project or the Alvarado Urban Farm.

But we must also demand economic justice. We must also urge our government to use our collective resources to create a strong safety net for the most vulnerable in our socty and support programs such as food stamps and the WIC.

Isaiah 58-6-11
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

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