top of page

Corporal Works of Mercy Fall 2023 Homily Series: Feeding the Hungry

Updated: Sep 14

This weekend we begin our Fall preaching series … the corporal works of mercy.

In a very real way, it’s back to the basics. It reminds me of the story of the parish

that got the new pastor:

The entire congregation was so thrilled with him, he was young, handsome,

had a nice singing voice and could preach well. After the first weekend of

preaching, he really knocked their socks off … great message … great

delivery … super inspiring homily. Everybody was talking!

The next week, having done so well, there was great expectation. People

who had attended the week before even brought friends. As the sermon

time came, Father gave the very same sermon as the week before. It

confused people, but they seemingly were ok with it and just shrugged it off.

Then the next week, the same thing … different readings but the same

message – three weeks in a row!

This time though, at the end of the mass, one of the ushers stopped Father

and said that people had asked him on the way out, when the priest would

change the sermon because he gave the same message three weeks in a

row … to which the priest replied with a smile, “When we do something

about it and act on the message.”

Friends you may have that same feeling today, asking why are we listening to and

thinking about the same things, the corporal works of mercy … themes that we

have heard now for years … the answer for us is also the same: until we do

something about it.

You don’t need me to tell you that there are still hungry, thirsty, and naked in our

midst. There are still homeless and sick and prisoners needing a visit. In short,

there are still people here and now, and even out there and then who will need

our fulfilling the challenge of the Lord, who tells us yet again today: love your

neighbor as yourself.

For today … what about the hungry? The bulletin this week has a number of

interesting things to read on the topic, and even to develop a plan of action, but

the challenge I think for us is captured in the words of Pope Francis who said, “The

planet has enough food for all, but there seems to be a lack of willingness to share

it with everyone.”

Here at St Teresa’s and in the larger Summit community, we have incredibly

generous people who provide donations and items to our Loaves and Fishes, to

Grace and other local ministries that feed the hungry. But what about the

systemic challenges? We also have people here who, given their profession and

influence, may be able to do things on a larger scale, to help change systems that

may better help to feed the hungry. And there are always ways to help even

beyond our own borders. And for those who cannot give in any way, raising

awareness and praying are always great options – as the Gospel clearly notes.

But as the book title says, let’s lean in a bit on this topic … feeding the hungry is

almost always associated with entering into fellowship with one another. This is

not surprising, since eating itself is the most ordinary and fundamental way that

Jesus celebrates his fellowship with us. The Last Supper is the lasting testimony of

Jesus’ promise to eat one day with us all. And the significance of that testimony is

what we celebrate in the Eucharist every time we gather.

The intimate relationship between food and inclusion is seen in the life of the


  • I remember as a student in Rome, the beautiful church of Santa Maria in Trastevere at Christmas time removes all the pews and invites the homeless and hungry to come for a Christmas meal – food and inclusion.

  • We have seen several times Pope Francis speak passionately on behalf of the more than 800 million hungry people in the world today, and an estimated 2 billion people that suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. "The hungry ask us for dignity, not for charity." he said.

  • Putting his money where his mouth is I remember vividly for his 80th birthday, the Pope invited homeless people to join him at the Vatican for his birthday celebration – foor and inclusion.

  • You may have even experienced the reality at many soup kitchens that insist that volunteers not only prepare and serve a meal, but also that they eat it. breaking break with those whom they serve.

The familiar story of Lazarus rings loudly for us as we ponder how to respond in

love to feeding the hungry. No story hits harder than the one of the rich man who

wants only to be relieved of his eternal suffering. While we may think that the

line that Lazarus just desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table,

we know that there is more to it than that. Remember that the rich man did not

maliciously withhold his crumbs from the hungry Lazarus … he simply did not

recognize Lazarus and his needs, in other words, he was not welcome to the

fellowship of Lazarus … the rich man gave him the food but not the fellowship.

Jesus asks that we offer both.

Every Sunday we gather at the table of the Lord to celebrate our redemption

through the body and blood of Christ. As we partake in that feast, we need also to

ask ourselves where Lazarus is when we gather. Lazarus is also at our gates here

in Summit, and somehow, we need to bring him in, to bring him closer to the

table, for his own good and for ours. Blessings!


20 views0 comments
bottom of page