Farmers and World Hunger. That our Lord may bless farmers with abundant harvests and sensitize the richer nations to respond to the ravages of hunger throughout the world.
Sometimes people ask us how the Holy Father comes up with his prayer intentions. This time we know. This month’s prayer intention was suggested to Pope Benedict XVI by Bishop Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota. That diocese covers the western half of a state that is almost entirely rural, with much farmland.
While farmers are busy with spring planting, we are praying for abundant harvests for ourselves and the hungry throughout the world.
In December 2008 the Pope declared that world hunger — and in fact the entire global financial crisis — is the result of the quest for short-term gains at the expense of the common good. He said the current food crisis is characterized not so much by a shortage of food as “by the difficulty in gaining access to it and by different forms of speculation.”
The Pope has repeatedly rejected the idea that high birthrates lead to poverty or hunger. He points out that among the most developed countries, those with higher birthrates enjoy better opportunities for development.
How many people are hungry? According to a September 2008 Food and Agriculture Organization report, there are 923 million hungry people, or about 16 percent of the earth’s 6.6 billion people. Almost 16,000 children die of hunger-related causes every day. How tragic that the greed of some results in massive suffering and death of others. That’s why our Holy Father calls hunger a “scandal of the human family.”
To end this scandal, together we must:
- Become aware of world hunger and help others to do the same
- Donate to hunger relief efforts
- Advocate for changes in our own country’s policies that will help feed the hungry
- Urge our leaders to work for international cooperation that will end world hunger
Reflection — What will you do to help end hunger?
Scripture — Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
Christians as Signs of Hope. That Christians working in desperate conditions among women, children, the poor, and the weak, may be signs of hope in their courageous witness to the gospel of solidarity and love.
What is Pope Benedict asking us to pray for this month? Is the gospel of solidarity some kind of socialism out of Eastern Europe? No. Solidarity, as taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is merely recognition of the fact that we are all, every person everywhere, members of the human family, each of us loved infinitely, equally by God (CCC 1939-42).
The opposite of solidarity is selfishness, seeking to enrich and aggrandize oneself at the expense of others.
The Pope says the principle of solidarity should motivate Christians who work in desperate conditions among the poor, oppressed, and the weak. We are praying this month that Christians who serve the wretched of the earth do so because they identify with them, as if “there but for the grace of God, go I.”
Each of us is just a heartbeat away from brokenness of body or mind. We serve those in need because we love them. And we love them because God loves them. We serve them because we seek to do unto others as we would like them to do unto us were we in the same situation. This is the gospel of solidarity and love.
Solidarity reconciles rich and poor as one. It reconciles employees and employers. It reconciles all ages, classes, races, and nations. We are all one. We are each and all infinitely precious in the eyes of God. This gospel of solidarity has healed the sick, freed slaves, and elevated all human beings. It gives us hope for progress in social justice.
Those who work among the victims of the world act as Jesus Christ in this generation. But the ultimate hope they express looks beyond their acts of love. Their acts declare the resurrection of the dead. Jesus rose from the dead and opened the way for us. In our loving service to others, we proclaim the resurrection, not just His, but our own. Jesus promised that we too will rise from the dead and enter into eternal life with God. That’s Hope!
Reflection — How can you grow in solidarity with those you might otherwise consider inferior to you?
Reading — Colossians 1:21 And you who were once alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish and irreproachable before him.
Prayer of the Month
God of goodness,
you provided for all your creation.
Give us an effective love for our brothers and sisters who suffer from lack of food. Help us do all we can to relieve their hunger, that they may serve you with carefree hearts. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
– from the “Mass for those who Suffer from Famine”