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Do Not Leave Jesus Behind

June 17, 2024

From the Office for Social Ministry

“Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and imprisoned.  We know they are all around us, crying out for our love” Bishop Larry Silva’s Homily at the Eucharistic Congress Mass June 8, 2024 at Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, Honolulu, Hawaii

This month Bishop Larry Silva celebrated the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress Mass on Oahu hosted by the Co-Cathedral parish of St. Theresa on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During the Mass that Saturday morning, outside in the church parking lot parish volunteers were distributing the monthly senior Food Bank boxes for hungry kupuna who filed by on foot or in cars lined up in the driveway. Inside the Co-Cathedral, Bishop Larry delivered a very moving homily that underscored how the Eucharist nourishes us to recognize Christ daily in our world today. His sermon asked all to reflect on  “when we walk by the least of our brothers and sisters, do we not leave Jesus behind to fend for himself?  Some are war-weary Ukrainians who continue to live in terror in their own homes, while others have fled and are refugees in foreign lands – and many, right here in Honolulu!  Some are the homeless who live in tents and under freeway overpasses in the many cities around our country.” Bishop Larry urged us all to be very concerned as Our Blessed Mother Mary was “not to leave Jesus behind.”

Later that morning during one of the Diocese Eucharistic Congress break-out sessions, participants watched the video The Eucharist- One ‘Ohana  in which the Bishop Larry explains how the Holy Communion we receive in the Mass not only “feeds” us, but also makes us "hungry to witness to Jesus." The video explains how the Eucharist gathers us as One ‘Ohana, nourishes us as One ‘Ohana, and sends us to serve as One ‘Ohana, to be bread broken and wine poured out, as extensions of Christ’s presence in the world. The talk story session also reflected on Pope Francis’s call to respond to the tragedy that while millions of people are plagued by hunger, there is still an enormous waste of food around the world. Participants were reminded of Hawaii’s current hunger crisis where nearly half of local families with children report experiencing food insecurity. This translates to roughly one in three keiki are facing hunger – a statistic that is both shocking and unacceptable. The crisis is only expected to increase as Maui fire victims now no longer have access to free food and across all Hawaii free school breakfast and lunch programs are temporarily suspended for the summer.  

While many of the diocese parish pantries and food ministries are attempting to respond to the hungry through collaboration with the Food Banks and Food Baskets on their islands, there are also other community organizations attempting to address this need through innovative ways. The initiative Feeding Hawaii Together by The Pantry in Kalihi is Hawaii’s only "e-commerce" food program. The Pantry provides free, nutritious food through an online platform where individuals and families can choose what they need and pick it up by appointment. This approach not only reduces food waste but also respects the dignity of those in need by allowing them to select their own food. For more on how The Pantry can be connected to parish food ministries, please visit their website, www.thepantry.org  And for more on the connection of the Eucharist to parish social ministries, please view the diocese video on the The Eucharist --One ‘Ohana: Witness to Jesus Across Hawaii at www.catholichawaii.org. Let us all remember and respond to the words of Bishop Larry as he reminds all “Jesus calls us into unity not only with the wonderful friends who are such a blessing to us, but with the stranger, the one who looks or speaks differently.” So let us continue to be gathered, nourished, and sent forth as One ‘Ohana, witnessing to Jesus through our inclusive caring actions, remembering, in the words of many children in Hawaii, "’Ohana means no one is left behind." Let our Witness to Jesus be that indeed we do not leave Jesus behind and all in need experience the compassionate unity that Christ calls us to embody. Mahalo.