“You are the light of the world.”
These are the words of Jesus to his disciples, to us. Our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah speaks to how we are called to be light.
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
In her reflection in Celebration Mary McGlone gives an interesting perspective on what it means to “share your bread.”
To appreciate this passage we need to consider Isaiah’s first statement with great care; it holds an interpretive key to what follows. Isaiah spoke about sharing bread with the hungry, not giving bread away. The difference is significant.
“Sharing” bread suggests a communal experience; in goes beyond almsgiving or, in our case, a food drive. Isaiah is challenging people to break bread with the needy. Breaking bread implies sharing a table. Sharing a table implies sharing prayer and conversation. When people are seated at the same table, distinctions between classes begin to fade; they become fellow diners rather than servants and masters, intellectuals and illiterates. When people pray together in gratitude, the well-off and
the destitute find themselves sharing the exact same status before God; no one has a greater claim to the gift of life than any other. All are beneficiaries of the same grace.
This kind of sharing reminds me of an experience I had at St. James community kitchen. Once a month parishioners from our parish go down to St. James to serve people coming for a meal. It is something I have had the privilege of doing a few times. During the summer they have a special meal for the community that gathers, a steak dinner. The priests from our diocese are asked to make a donation to provide steaks for everyone who gathers for this meal. It is something I do each year. We are also invited to come to the dinner. Everyone who gathers is given a t-shirt and asked to wear it. Suddenly we are looking alike and we are sharing a meal and sharing stories.
Mary McGlone is right…the experience is significantly different from being the person who serves the other to being the person who shares with the other.
When we truly share with the other we will be light and we will see light.