The first of the Corporal Works of Mercy (“corporal” is derived from “corpus,” Latin for “body” = Bodily works of Mercy) is the Feed the Hungry. In a day and age in which millions of people go without basic food — as the result of famines, hurricanes, earthquakes, wars and deliberate starvation by corrupt and evil governments (think of Ethiopia in the 1980s; Ukraine in the 1930s, etc.), there are many people who are in grave need of basic food and nutrition. Then there are the homeless and other poor people among us who are also in need of food. What can we as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, do about it?
First of all, it is necessary that we recognize that it is NOT the job of government to take care of those who are in need. No, it is the duty of each and every man and woman to reach out in mercy to those in need. Does that mean that we have to give money away indiscriminately? No: you don’t need to give cash to a poor person, who might use the money for cigarettes, alcohol or drugs instead of for food. But can we give to a local homeless shelter, or to a soup kitchen, to a charity which provides food for poor families or for the homeless? Can we give of ourselves by volunteering our time and talents to help with such charities? Could we buy a sandwich or a hot meal for a person on the street? Or could we buy an extra bag of groceries, and drop it off at the home of a poor family in our neighborhood?
What about further afield? Is there anything that you and I can do to help to feed the hungry in far away places? We could send money to a charity, such as an orphanage in Mexico or India. Or maybe to a charity taking care of lepers in the Philippines. Could we send a donation to a good Catholic charity like Food for the Poor, which provides food, and maybe even more importantly, the ability for the poor in the Caribbean to begin to provide their own food, through providing them with chickens, goats, fruit trees, fishing nets and motors for their village fishing boats (“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”).
There are many people who are suffering from lack of basic food and nutrition. What can we do to help them? It is a question that each person must ask himself/herself.