A mother of three approached me late afternoon, in confidence, to ask for bread. She wanted to buy few pieces of pan de sal for her kids the next morning because that is their favorite breakfast meal dipped on a cup of sikwate.
Two hundred fifty-pesos was all she had in her wallet. This amount had to be stretched for a week to feed her starving family.
With no work and no income, she had to find ways to provide for the family’s needs. She used to be a working woman; but after marriage, her husband told her to give it up.
Now she must return to be the ‘breadwinner’ because her husband left her for another woman. She fears for her growing children. With no bread and no means of living yet, they might have no future ahead. But she trusts that God will provide.
Food is an essential part of life. For after feeding bread for a hungry crowd, the people were now looking for him to ask for more.
In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus intentionally included a fundamental request to the heavenly Father ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ Bread has become a powerful symbol of God’s generosity.
A story is told that when the Korean War ended, a large number of children were left orphaned. Relief efforts were mobilized to feed them in orphanages.
Volunteers noticed that although the children were provided with meals three times a day, they were still restless and anxious at night and had difficulty in sleeping. It was discovered that the source of their anxiety was real fear whether they would still have food the next day.
To resolve this problem, volunteers in one particular orphanage decided that every night when the children went to bed, a single piece of bread was distributed in each child’s hand.
The bread was not intended to be eaten but simply held as a ‘security blanket’ to assure them that the provision for their daily needs will not run out. And soon the children slept better.
Requesting for daily bread is not just about our biological needs which we know God will provide.
It also refers to our many hungers which we entrust to our Father in humble dependence. We all hunger for acceptance, respect or love.
Our children hunger for quality time, presence, affection and sincere relationship. The Salesian Strenna for 2018 given by the Rector Major of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime centers on cultivating the art of listening and accompaniment.
Listening is like bread that nourishes the hunger of the heart. Lending a listening ear to your child, a spouse, a friend, or a colleague is like giving your heart and a piece of your life to them.
I realize that when I stop to listen to parishioners, it shows that I am giving them importance.
As I listen, they allow me to enter into their complex world so that I understand what they are going through.
It is one way of earning their trust. Listening becomes the first duty of love as we break bread with those whom we truly care.
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