Give us each day our daily bread… (Luke 11:3)
Several years ago I participated in an experience which touched me more than I thought it would. At the time I was in St. Louis standing in line with other citizens of our country during the event called, “Hands Across America.” I felt caught up in a venture which went beyond the boundaries of my small self. I became part of one loud voice which said, “No more! We must reach out to others less fortunate than ourselves. Even if it means we can only give a crust of bread, then we must give it to the poor in our own land.” It was a start. Simultaneously, the occasion brought home to me how important it is to love ourselves before giving to others. Still, even if we do not yet love ourselves rightly, sometimes stretching ourselves a bit for others can bring about a better love of self. As Jesus said, the two loves are inextricably bound to one another. Some of us have the problem of never looking at ourselves deeply enough, always remaining on the surface of things, and blaming others for the daily relational problems we encounter. Our giving to others just becomes a way of feeding our egos. On the other hand, some of us spend forever working on self-improvement. Then our giving to others remains at a standstill. Soul-searching was never meant to be morose or picayune. We need to stop chiding ourselves, our parents, our teachers, or whoever else we blame, acknowledge the influence of past psychological hurts, and then move on and beyond them.
All of this is to say we need to behave like believing Christians who recognize a God who loves us, providing our daily bread through countless gifts of love: friends, food, clothing, and the beauty of nature. We, in turn, must supply that bread for others in need. This may be the only way they will come to know our God. More importantly, it may be the only way God’s good heavenly crop can be harvested. The choice is ours.
…not by bread alone do we live but by every word that comes from…the Lord. (Deut. 8:3)
—Sister Mary E. Penrose
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.