Dom Helder Camara, the late archbishop from eastern Brazil, famously observed: “When I give bread to the poor, they call me a saint; when I ask why the poor have no bread, they call me a communist!”
Last week, the Rev Lis Mullen wrote about the newly-established food bank here in Windermere. It was started by Christians to ‘give bread to the poor’. And rightly so: we cannot proclaim that Jesus is the Bread of Life and stand by while people go hungry.
But there is the other deeply Christian question that has to be asked about our food bank: “Why is it necessary?”
Jesus’ answer would be simple. He was possessed of the embarrassing notion that it was the addiction of the wealthy to their money and possessions that lay at the root of the hunger and deprivation of the poor.
And his definition of ‘wealthy’ seems to go something like this: ‘If there are people who do not have enough bread to survive for the next 24 hours, then anyone who has more than enough to survive it is wealthy’.
The food bank brings world hunger to our doorstep. Right here in our own country and its cities, there are elderly people who have to choose between eating and heating, children who go to bed hungry and malnourished, while obesity and eating disorders among the ‘wealthy’ is becoming a national crisis.
Hunger is not an incurable disease. There is enough to go round for everyone – but only IF …
Lawrence Moore, Director of the URC’s Windermere Centre