Our neighbors are hungry

It’s always difficult for me to take down Christmas decorations. By the time I get to it, there are more pine needles on the rug than on the  tree. I am particularly reluctant to put away the crèche. As a matter of fact,  it’s still sitting in my living room, with the holy family, the shepherds, the wise men, the sheep, the donkey, the cow, a silly looking camel and three cats (if the Cathedral has a golden retriever , I can have cats). It’s such a sweet image, but it’s not accurate. That’s not the environment into which Jesus was born.

Forget the pretty crèches and the exquisite Renaissance Nativity paintings. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords was born into excruciating poverty. As I was reminded recently by a homilist, Joseph was probably a sort of odd-jobs man, not a master carpenter. He picked up work where he could find it. Mary probably couldn’t read and she certainly didn’t have a grand wardrobe. If she and Joseph actually did own a donkey, they were doing better than most of their peers.  They and Jesus, the Word made flesh, were among that mass of persons dehumanized into two word, “the poor.”

Putting food on the table would have been a daily struggle. Jesus probably went to bed hungry many times. In their tight little community, they most likely would have been dependent on the kindness of their neighbors and would have tried to help others in their turn.

Well, today, Jan 12, 2012, there are people right under our noses who live in similar circumstances. Nearly 325,000 children in the 10 counties and 4,400 square miles of the Archdiocese of New York are going hungry. More than 800,000 people have problems affording food. Do you live in the Bronx? About 35 percent of the children in your borough are hungry. Complicating things further are the facts that unemployment is higher and food is more expensive in this area.

This is a scandal but there’s no time for speeches. Our neighbors need food NOW. That is why Cardinal-Designate Dolan and New York Catholic Charities are mounting an Archdiocesan-wide food campaign, “Feeding Our Neighbors,” from Sunday, Jan.22, through Sunday, Jan. 29.

You personally can take part in three ways: by donating money to support emergency food programs, by participating in a parish food drive from the 22nd through the 29th or by volunteering your time at a food pantry to make certain that our neighbors get the food and the dignity to which they have a God-given right.

All the details you need to get involved and donate are right at this website.  Please bookmark the “Feeding Our Neighbors” website and check back frequently as it will be updated regularly throughout the drive.

Catholic Charities is making it so easy for us to help our neighbors, but time is of the essence and the need is growing every minute.

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