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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, July 31, 2011

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

July 31, Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A Readings:

1) Isaiah 55:1-3

Psalm 145:8-9, 15-18

2) Romans 8:35, 37-39

Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

Lillie Peters and her husband Pete run a food pantry in St. Paul, Va., a small, struggling community in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields. Last weekend, they showed me around the "Neighbors Aid Store" in the basement of their small Catholic church.

Along with a few volunteers, they work long hours every week, transporting goods from regional food banks, collecting and organizing donations, and providing basic needs and emergency assistance to about 250 families a month.

Lillie knows these neighbors of hers well and ministers to them with care.

"They are God's little miracles, I'll tell you," she said. She's gratified by the generosity of her donors, but the pantry's stock often runs low while the poor in her community are many and their needs are constant. So she's always concerned.

"One day last year we actually ran out of food," she recalled in her thick mountain accent. "There were still eight families here with their (eligibility) papers signed and ready, and we didn't have any food left.

"Shirley (a volunteer) says to me, 'Lillie, what're we gonna do?'

"And I says, 'I don't know, let's just wait a few minutes.'

"So I look up, and I says, 'Lord, what'll we do?' And it wasn't five minutes before a fella came and stuck his head in the door and says, 'I got a truckload of food out here. Where do you want me to put it?'"

She smiled as she finished the story: "I swear, we had just the amount of food to give all eight of those families what they needed -- and two cans left over!"

Lillie's story in 2010 in southwest Virginia echoes this weekend's Gospel in which Jesus multiplied a few loaves of bread and two fish to feed everyone.

If we pay attention, we can see this Scripture played out in real life. God will provide, his word tells us. Sometimes it is actual food. Other times it is spiritual food.

Lillie is a great example of one following Jesus' call to "Give them some food yourselves." But when we reach our limitations we must trust his word. God will fulfill our needs again and again, with some left over.

QUESTIONS:

When have you witnessed God's overabundant generosity when you were in need? In what specific ways can you help feed others physically and spiritually?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"The eyes of all look hopefully to you. ... You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing" (Psalm 145:15-16).

END



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