This week Jewish people celebrate the Festival of Sukkot. It is a festival of remembering and rejoicing. It recalls the forty-year period when the Israelites wandered through the desert towards the Promised Land and it celebrates the gathering of the harvest. It remembers the hardships of living in temporary accommodation as they journeyed through the wilderness. It rejoices in the providence of God manifested in the bountiful supply of grain, fruit and vegetables.
The festival, by its very nature, invites us to become aware of the hardships that the poor and the vulnerable endure. But it equally calls us to trust in God’s providence and acknowledge the labour of human hands. The United Nations this week draws our attention to the hungry of the world (World Food Day, Oct. 16) and the poor of the world (International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Oct. 17).
As they traversed the desert, the Israelites battled hunger, ranted against God and complained to Moses. We are told that God heard their cries and responded with “manna from heaven.” We have the beautiful story of Moses striking the rock at Meribah, from which fresh water for the Israelites to drink then flowed.
World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. Today over 800 million people live with chronic hunger. There is no reason why this should be the case. There is enough food and then some to feed every person on this planet. So why do we still have people living with chronic hunger? Why do we still have 5 million children under the age of five dying of malnutrition related causes every year?
Laudato Si’ speaks of “compulsive consumerism,” “increased greed,” “collective selfishness” and “the throwaway culture” as affecting the very fabric of human life in these times. It fuels the vicious conveyor belt of indiscriminate production and wasteful consumption. As a wise sage once said, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Many in our society do not have an awareness of the problems that affect the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded. Pope Francis calls for a culture and spirituality of encounter that encourages people to right relationships with each other, with the world and with God.
The theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty this year echoes a similar sentiment in calling people to end all forms of poverty by “moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation.” Laudato Si’ reminds us that “we are always capable of going out of ourselves towards the other.” Let us reach out to one another, for
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning … Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life. (Earth Charter)
CONSIDER: Take up this challenge. World Food Day – Video Contest