Holy Cross Church volunteers preparing food (Photo credit Holy Cross Church)

Holy Cross Church volunteers preparing food (Photo credit Holy Cross Church)

The miracle of love

Can we create a place where we can build community and encounter one another in love and friendship?

By Fr. Sylvester Obi Ibekwe

It all began as a dream, an inspiration: what can our parish do for our community; can we create a place where people from our community can come and share a meal and a beverage? Can we create a place where we can build community and encounter one another in love and friendship?

But how is that going to happen? It will require volunteers. It will require funding.

I shared the inspiration with our parishioners. Everyone was on board. People started volunteering. Donations were made. Our community amazed me. People who are not members of our parish heard about it and said: sign me up!

In a short time, about 40 people volunteered. We had enough money to start. Golden Flour Bakery, from day one, started donating bread, buns, and desserts. Wloka farm donated groceries and gave us discounts. Extra freezers and a fridge were offered at very low prices and/or donated.

Today, we have 6 teams. Each team has about 5 volunteers who prepare the soup/soups of the day, once every 6 weeks. An average of 36 people are fed each week. Different kinds of soup are served. People come out to eat and have fellowship. A culture of encounter of love and friendship is being created. There’s laughter, there’s joy. The volunteers, as well as those who are served, enjoy the friendly atmosphere. From the volunteers, every Monday, I see the joy of service, of serving Jesus in each man and woman. From those who come to the soup kitchen, I see the joy of being loved.

We are looking forward to December 24. Come with your friends and family for Christmas soup and buns; there will be an opportunity if you choose for a photo with St. Nicholas (Santa). The photo will be printed immediately. It will be a gift from our parish to you and your family. It will not be published.

The miracle I see happening in our parish/community would not be possible without the spirit of generosity and sacrifice. It reminds me of the little boy in the Bible who gave his five loaves and two fish to Jesus. Jesus took it and blessed it and it was multiplied. More than five thousand people were fed (Cf. John 6:1-14). How can something very small, seemingly insignificant be enough for so many people. It is simply because of love. Someone once said: ‘Love is like a basket of loaves and fishes: you never have enough until you start to give it away.’ When something small is given and received with love, miracles happen! Love multiplies. This is what I see in our community today.

I heard a story that Mother Teresa told. She said that one day she was walking down the street when a beggar came up to her and said, ‘Mother Teresa, everybody is giving to you, I also want to give to you. Today, for the whole day, I got only thirty cents. I want to give it to you.’ Mother Teresa thought for a moment: ‘If I take the thirty cents he will have nothing to eat tonight, and if I don’t take it I will hurt his feelings. So, I put out my hands and I took the money. I have never seen such joy on anybody’s face as I saw on the face of that beggar-man at the thought that he too could give to Mother Teresa.’

Mother Teresa went on: ‘It was a big sacrifice for that poor man, who has sat in the sun all day long and received only thirty cents. It was beautiful. Thirty cents is such a small amount, and I can get nothing with it, but as he gave it up and I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love. God looks, not at the greatness of the work, but at the love with which it is performed.’

Lastly, whenever Jesus performs a miracle of love, it was a sign of something more, something beyond. The hunger he saw in the people was a sign of a deeper hunger and thirst in their hearts, a sign of man’s hunger for God. There is a God-size hole in every heart that only God can fill. Only God can satisfy the deepest hunger of the human heart. The people in the Bible ate and were satisfied. In God’s kingdom, in the new heavens and the new earth, no one will be hungry anymore. Thirst will be forever quenched.

God’s kingdom has begun. Together, we keep working for the fulfillment of the new heavens and the new earth which Jesus has already come to inaugurate.