Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’ (Mt 25:34-36)
I’m not sure what this is all about, but when I make something, I want to share it with another. When I buy something, I want to keep it for myself, to satisfy my personal or perceived needs. Maybe it’s the difference between abundance and scarcity. Just out and out sharing seems so contradictory in my world, a world that has a price for everything. A price for my time as a teacher, a price for the fruits of the earth and a price for the products of my making. To just give these things away, or to share them freely with others as the above scripture seems to suggest, just doesn’t compute. How am I to live or survive?
I wonder what a world that did not have prices for everything would look like? Would everyone who was capable, do their “fair” share of work to grow, gather and prepare our food, to help shelter all from the cold by building housing and making clothing? Would I go hungry, or be left out in the cold in such a world?
What I do know is that I have and continue to be very blessed, having food, clothing and shelter. Today, I share in a lunch program for seniors that utilizes food from our local food depository system. According to its website, the food depository system gets it food from surpluses from farmers, wholesalers and retail grocers. Needless to say, we don’t get prime beef or lobster newburg. We do get a slice of pie however, from another group in Chicago that boasts of how many meals they serve to the Chicago’s hungry every month.
Throughout these past winters, I have been able to go outside and keep warm each day no matter how cold it was. That is due to the kindness of three of my friends, one who is dead. You see they have all given me items of clothing to keep me warm.
The first item of clothing is an Irish Fisherman’s sweater, that was given to me by my good friend Penny many years ago. I don’t remember the occasion for the gift, probably Christmas. It is a “Pure new wool, Hand knit Cardigan with an authentic pattern from the Republic of Ireland”. Well, Penny is gone now, but I still wear that beautiful sweater and yes, think of her every time I put it on.
The second piece of clothing is also a knit sweater. This sweater was knit by a good friend of mine, Spencer, who knits as an avocation. It is a tighter knit weave than the one above with patterns of browns, blues and whites yarn made from pure lambs’ wool. Every time I wear this sweater, someone will remark on how beautiful it is and want to know where I got it. Of course, I tell them of my good friend Spencer. Then they usually remark on how lucky I am to have such a good friend. I agree.
The third piece of clothing is a coat that another good friend, Makoto gave me. It’s a down winter coat made by a famous brand that is noted for its quality and earth friendliness. The coat has a hood that keeps me warm no matter how hard the wind blows. The coat is guaranteed for life and actually is the replacement of the original coat that I had for ten plus years. I brought the original coat back to the manufacturer for some repairs for the third time in ten years. This time, the clerk who was taking care of me said: “Oh, this coat has really been loved. I think it is too worn and we will have to replace it.” They did just that and at no cost to me.
Thank you, God, for good friends, the lambs who gave of their wool, the ducks of their down, our mother earth, the intelligence of reputable food and clothing manufacturers and distributors that have kept me warm and fed again these cold winter days. I pray that everyone will be as blessed and have clothing that will cover their nakedness, protecting them from the weather. Let me step up whenever possible to be your caring representative in my world today accepting each opportunity to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, visit the imprisoned and care for each person you let into my life.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.