Reflection on the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Midrash is expansive exposition, interpretation and explanation of the text. The facts might be a little misremembered, but the teaching is true. That’s what I remember learning in Scripture class. And I remember a Loretto reading of this Gospel.
It was the 1976 Assembly, held in El Paso. I was living with Paulette Peterson and Ann Manganaro. Ann was on the Executive Committee and the Assembly planners had asked the Executive Committee members to each give a brief talk on the vows. Ann’s talk was on poverty. I had heard some of it ahead of time, and I listened that day intently. It touched me deeply.
The big Assembly proposal that year – as I remember it – was to put $175,000 into a new investment fund that would build up and eventually care for the retired sisters. $175,000. A lot of money then. And a new idea, that we would set money aside for ourselves.
I wasn’t a delegate to the Assembly and, honestly, I don’t remember saying anything. I don’t think non-delegates spoke. But a lot of people had a lot to say. And then we let the matter sit and we went to Mass. The Gospel was the Gospel of today. The woman who would not stop begging, saying, “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table.”
Our new Loretto government was only six years old. We were learning to express our thoughts and hopes, our feelings and our prayers, in public, to each other. The delegates talked some more and expressed discomfort at setting aside so much money for ourselves. Then someone suggested that we give an equal amount, $175,000, to feed the hungry.
That was the origin of the Hunger Fund. The Congregation put in some of the money and we, the Community members, promised to raise the rest. It took us a couple of years to raise half, $90,000 or so. And then we kept on raising money to feed the hungry.
Paul tells the Romans that the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. The moment I remember at that El Paso Assembly was an irrevocable call of God.
We knew that we had to make provisions for the retirement of our sisters. And we went on, putting a lot more than $175,000 into what became the Charitable Trust. And we went on collecting aluminum cans and taking the reception desk at 590 and putting our quarters into those long tubes Anthony put out – in order to feed the hungry. Community members made and still make sacrifices for the Hunger Fund. We try to give more than the scraps from our table. This is a great and lasting grace that we received almost 50 years ago from today’s Gospel.