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How Can I Help?

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It’s the question we ask when those we care about are overwhelmed. Whether in celebration or in mourning those we love want to make things easier. And what’s the first form of help that usually comes to mind?

If you’re like me, your brain probably locked onto food. Food is both our nourishment, and often, our comfort. Taking cooking off someone’s already full plate makes it that much easier for them to focus on healing or planning.

I was meditating on these thoughts as I tried to push aside my own pride enough to accept meals through an ongoing family struggle. And while that may seem an easy thing to do–accept food from others–sometimes we feel embarrassed to accept help.

As often happens when something is weighing heavily on me, God uses the words of a priest to cut right to the heart of the matter. As Father prepared to say his homily to 40 or so second graders during our twins’ First Communion Mass, an altar server stepped forward and offered him a brown paper grocery bag. He held the bag, looked into their wide-eyed faces and asked, “So, last night, how many had supper?” The tiny congregation looked at one another, silently asking themselves if this was a trick question.

“And for supper, I presume you had it with your family?” And when you have lunch, at school, in the cafeteria–who do you eat with? Your classmates? Your friends?” He continued, “When we have a meal, we usually eat it with people we love.”

“It’s amazing that our God, who loves us more than we could even imagine, would, not surprisingly, decide to create a special meal out of love for us. And we call that meal The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And at that meal, our God, through the power of the Church, through the power of the priests, changes that bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and that becomes our spiritual food,” he said. “That food we need to be a faithful disciple of the Lord. We experience God’s love as we share His love with others.”

It was a light bulb moment for me. God shares His meal, His very self with us at Mass because He loves us. He offers Himself to us freely, even going so far as to imbue His love for us into our own physical bodies. And when we share a meal to help others (or when we are humble enough to accept that help), we are sharing and partaking in God’s love for us by giving it to one another.

I hope this issue of the magazine, which celebrates food as God’s gift for us, brings you joy and helps to remind you of all the ways God nourishes your soul.

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