Bishop Hying

Mercy calls us to sacrifice on behalf of those starving for food, love, joy

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on May 1, 2016   


     In this Year of Mercy, Christ calls all of us to practice with greater generosity and zeal the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, acting out the script of the Gospel with passion and purpose.

     In Matthew 25, Jesus reminds us that we will be judged on how we love and serve the poor and the needy. We see in the lives of so many of the saints the exciting results when Christians take the Good News literally and let the Holy Spirit lead them to love the marginalized with the very heart of Christ. 

     To highlight the works of mercy during this special year, our diocese will be reflecting on one of the corporal works and one of the spiritual works every month, inviting us to reflect on their meaning, learn about the many beautiful ways these works are lived out locally every day and encouraging us to volunteer in these areas as we can.  Each month, I will write about the various works of mercy here in my column.

     Think of all the people who have fed you throughout your life! Mothers and fathers, grandparents, cafeteria cooks, good friends, restaurant chefs have all fed us thousands of meals, nourishing both our bodies and spirits with comfort food that gives life and love. 

     Our planet has enough food to sustain all seven billion of us, but due to poverty, war, waste, corruption and lack of transportation, many people still suffer malnutrition and starvation. Feeding the hungry is a basic human action that Christ has lifted up as a work of mercy for our brothers and sisters.  Everyone has a right to eat in order to sustain life, health and energy. 

     After serving in the Dominican Republic, where many people eat once a day, I can no longer look at good and wonderful food being thrown in the garbage without feeling sadness and regret for the plight of our hungry brothers and sisters across the planet.

     Here in our diocese, scores of food pantries, meal programs and soup kitchens serve the hungry in our midst. Parishes, schools and St. Vincent de Paul conferences sponsor many of these wonderful efforts, fueled by thousands of people who donate time, money and food. Please consider helping in this remarkable service of love if you have not yet done so. No loving action can be as needed, basic and life-giving than to feed another person. 

     When a Catholic priest explained our belief in the Eucharist to Mohandas Gandhi, the Hindu leader of the Indian people who achieved freedom through non-violence, he famously responded, “In a world where so many people are starving to death, how else could God physically show up except as food?” 

     This question reminds us that the Lord feeds us with His Body and Blood, nourishing our souls with the saving divine presence that leads us to eternal life, just as he multiplied bread and fish to sustain the hungry multitude in the wilderness.  In feeding us both spiritually and physically, God gives us the energy and resources to pass on the gift to those who hunger for bread, affection, justice, love and peace.

     A better way to express the thought behind “Instruct the ignorant” may be “Teach and form others.”  Ponder all the people who have taught, educated and formed you to be the person you are today. Our parents, teachers, catechists, coaches, pastors and friends have all molded our character, formed our intellect, taught us the faith, inspired us to love and give and led us down our vocational path. 

     I remember the names of all of my teachers in school from kindergarten forward, as well as catechists, priests, sisters, coaches and Scout leaders, because each one had a deep impact on my life. I praise God for all the people who dedicate their lives to educating and forming our young people. I particularly thank the hundreds of school teachers, catechists, priests, deacons and religious who form us in the faith, so that we can know, love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ here in our diocese.

     Opportunities abound for more folks to step forward and impact our precious young people in beautiful and formative ways. Our religious education programs, Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Best Buddies are just some of the wonderful ways that we can help love and mentor children. 

     Many young people suffer intensely the feeling that no one cares about them, nurtures them or loves them. When we are not mothered and fathered properly, a hole in the heart, a longing in the soul can damage us emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. How many people in our world are deeply wounded because they were not loved and nurtured as children? When we generously step forward to volunteer, when we love and form our own children and grandchildren, when we teach, catechize, coach and mentor, another precious human life flourishes and grows in the warm sun of our attention and affection. 

     Is there a greater gift that we can offer another than to share our faith in Jesus Christ and the love in our hearts?

     I praise and thank the Lord for the thousands of people across our diocese who feed and form others, so that every human person can flourish, physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. As the Body of Christ, we serve the dignity of everyone, recognizing the flicker of that divine spark that burns in every heart and mind. Mercy calls us to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of those, near and far, who are starving for food, love and joy.


+ Donald J. Hying


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