It was a tough period in my life. Alone and by myself for Thanksgiving, I opted to go down to the church where I was serving early that morning and move some mulch into the church’s playground. Because I had participated in a Thanksgiving Eve Community Service the night before, I didn’t have the luxury of driving the eight hours to join my family for Thanksgiving so I opted to stay at home. I counted on working a couple of hours and then head downtown to volunteer with a group feeding the hungry a Thanksgiving meal.
What I didn’t realize is that in order for the people to eat, they would have to first sit through a service of preaching and singing before any food would be served. The people were hungry, and yes, I know about spiritual hunger, but there was no advance notice of such a service. Just open with a prayer, and feed them. After volunteering, I opted not to eat with the other volunteers and headed home, stopping at a restaurant to have a Thanksgiving meal by myself. I guess I am just naive about such things.
I thought about that day when I came across a story a couple of weeks ago. It was a story about a dining room in St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in San Francisco where they feed a thousand needy people every day. A sign over the doorway reads: CARITATE DEI
A young man visited the Golden Gate city and found himself on the wrong part of town with the wrong people. He got drunk, was rolled, and ended up in jail without a penny. It was there in jail that he learned that once he got out, he could get a free meal every day at St. Anthony’s Church. When he got out of jail, he went to the church to get some food but he was very suspicious. When he saw a woman cleaning a nearby table, he asked, “When do we get down on our knees, lady?” The woman replied that he didn’t have to do that in order to get a meal at St. Anthony’s. Puzzled even more, he then asked, “Then when’s the sermon?” She answered, “Aren’t any.” Totally confused, he then asked, “What’s the gimmick?” The woman stopped for a moment, and then pointed to the sign over the doorway: CARITATE DEI
The man asked, “What’s it mean, lady?” “Out of the love for God!” she replied and then, with a smile, she began cleaning the next table. The young man could not believe people would do something like this simply “Out of the Love for God.” It made quite an impression on Him, leading him to give his life to Christ and becoming active in the ministry of the Church. But he was not alone as others also found themselves caught up in this web of love and acceptance.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus talks a lot about the Kingdom of Heaven being lived here on earth. The Kingdom of Heaven is one person giving a dollar – out of the love for God – so another person can eat. The Kingdom of Heaven is a disciple – someone with a thousand other things to do – who takes time to listen to someone else who need to share their problems. The Kingdom of Heaven is a group of folks who come together to worship God – then go into the world to share what they have discovered. The Kingdom of Heaven is to be found all around us – in the little things that we do for others – out of our love for God. CARITATE DEI.
See you Sunday,