I have to quote pg 89 in our Place at the Table book:
“In the moments before I encountered this child [he’s talking about Mateus, a child from Codo, Brazil], I had been preoccupied with irritable thoughts and grumblings from my stomach. My pantry is full, and I have more than enough to eat, but like a spoiled child I was not interested in another serving of rice or beans. God help me. I am a selfish man [insert woman] in need of a Savior.”
This statement has been resonating with me for hours today. Even in the midst of this fast I have bounty galore. Open my refrigerator and there you will see an assortment of fruit and veggies, often with some chicken I’m marinating for the week. In my cupboards I am fully stocked for baking. I have a 25 lb bag of rice at my fingertips. What’s this about??? I’m supposed to be feeling solidarity with the poor and instead I’m stocking my shelves! Shame on me…yet I’m thankful at the same time. Ever so thankful that I am able to have a variety of food at my fingertips even when I’m fasting.
I’m not facing hardship by eating rice. I happen to love rice! My sister is Cambodian and has taught me various things you can do with rice to make it stretch and taste good. I learned that rice, seasoning sauce and a fried egg in the morning are a pretty delicious way to start the day. Toss in some roasted veggies and grilled chicken and you have supper. I even know how to make traditional Cambodian fried rice. Do I have an advantage? Besides have a grocery store down the street and a fridge packed with food? Maybe…my Cambodian side of the family were pretty frugal and made do with things I would normally turn my nose up at. So, because it is not a hardship should I switch from rice to potatoes? Also a staple used around the world and one we in New England would be glad to include in any meal.
I think if we are careful to recognize how easy it is for us – even during our fasting – and remember the poor and give thanks to God, we’ll do OK. The point is to raise awareness and maybe change our selfish habits. We need to stop and think about what we put in our mouths and praise God for our bounty even in the midst of a fast. Face it, we will never be as poor as the poor are around the world. We will never have the type of gnawing hunger most of their children wake up to every morning. Even those of us on food stamps are incredibly wealthy in comparison.
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” James 1:16-18