Reflection for Saturday, April 13, 2002: 2nd week in Easter.

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O'Reilly, Daniel Patrick
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You know, some days the scriptures seem abstract, distant and hard to understand. And some days they jump off the page at me. Well, today is a "jump off the page" day. It's about feeding God's children and recognizing the face of Christ when it's in front of you. In Acts, the body of Christ works out a way to daily distribute food to those in need. One of those chosen to feed the widows is Stephen. The psalmist praises God for his promise to "preserve them in spite of famine." In John, Christ walks on water and the disciples do not recognize him and become afraid.|My mom periodically serves dinner at the Stephen Center, a shelter for the homeless. This requires a great deal of food preparation, transportation of large quantities of food to the shelter, serving the diners and clean up. She has long wanted this to be a family affair, but I've resisted. "I'd love to, but I don't have time, it takes too long, etc." I had all sorts of excuses. My mom persisted and finally I agreed to serve on Good Friday. On Wednesday the food purchasing and preparation began. A family affair that was fun and bonding. On Friday, the food delivery began. Everything went well, until the time for serving approached. The crowd in the dining hall was still growing and, after a quick head count, I realized we weren't even close to having enough food. We were in a depressed area of town, serving people with drug and alcohol and mental health problems and we did not have enough food. My fear kicked in. I surveyed the building exits and started thinking about how a family might make a quick exit. I approached my mom and told her the problem. She is an amazing woman of faith and compassion. The face of Christ. She told me not to worry, that it would work out. My three oldest sons and I were the servers and everyone else worked shuttling trays and bowls of food to us. What a humbling experience. I have never been without food or shelter. A gentleman in nice clothes approached me and asked what he was supposed to do. He had never been in a shelter before. Another gentleman in not-so-nice clothes said that this was the first time he'd eaten in a few days. Young children thanked me for salmon loaf. Salmon loaf! By this time my fear was long gone, replaced by a compassion for God's children. As our food ran out, a group came to the shelter with leftovers from a large picnic. Grocery bags of baked beans, bread, hot dogs, etc. We finished serving and had food left over. What an amazing God we serve. I learned some wonderful lessons that day. When an opportunity to serve arises, take it. Trust God to make good on His promises. And look for the face of Christ in those around you.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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