At first we weren’t sure how we were going to do this year. When I talked to Daina Scheider last Sunday, looking at the pews filled with bagged groceries for our food drive, it looked like an impressive amount, but still short of what we have done in the past. She was concerned.
I reassured her that the church would remain open, and folks would keep bringing bags all afternoon and maybe even the next morning, when I had announced the truck would come. Sure enough, when Daina showed up with her posse of volunteers to pack the bags into boxes, a wondrous fulfillment had occurred.
After all had been packed up to truck away, she let me know the tally. 230 bags of groceries were given in the church; another 130 bags were given in the school by student and religious education families, for a total of 360 bags. The approximate total was 5,652 pounds of food! That is an increase of more than twenty-five percent over last year, and the most we have ever collected. Awesome!
Thank you for this demonstration of your willingness to give where a true need exists, and your participation in the work of our local church, the Archdiocese of Washington. I know you are all willing as individuals to be generous and attentive to others’ needs, but when we come together we not only accomplish more in the amount we manage to give, but also we strengthen the care that unites us one to another. This work of communal giving not only manifests that charity that we each have, but fortifies the charity that unites us all and increases it.
When speaking to you every year about the Cardinal’s Appeal, I highlight the added dimension of giving and caring as more than a parish, as a local church, as the Church: the body of Christ. This ecclesial dimension is another form of communion, and in uniting as His body to make Christ present in our city, we let Him become more present in us.
Participating with the whole Archdiocese in this food drive, and other similar works, brings our sacramental communion to fruition through our work, and therefore accomplishes more than other charitable works whether individual or organized, because it is Christ working in us. Nothing else can match that! There is indeed strength in numbers, but the strongest number is One, that is, the One God living and true; the all-holy One in Three. Yeah, that One. It’s pretty awesome to put that kind of horsepower into a seemingly-simple food drive, isn’t it? But so indeed it is.
One of the things that made me chuckle last week was seeing a dad walking toward the church, carrying a bag of groceries in each arm, while his young daughter circled his striding legs, seemingly quite agitated. A few minutes later I saw him walking the other direction, back toward his car. This time the daughter was in his arms, and as far as she was concerned, all was once again right with the world. The dad and I shared a laugh. I guess we all make sacrifices in order to participate in the saving work of Christ, even if they don’t involve money, or food. And sharing that draws us closer to one another, and to God.
But that is how we do it, and that is how, again this Lent, in a way bigger than ever, we did it again.