Hunger for Food and Love

A Communist dictator Enver Hoxha ruled Albania for 40 years from 1945 to 1985. Albania is the native land of St Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa).  He imposed atheism as the official religion in Albania in 1967. The possession of a Bible or cross often meant a ten-year prison term. He welcomed Mother Teresa for reception in his country. Welcoming Mother Teresa in 1985, he stated that he appreciated her world-wide works of charity, and then added, “But I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge.” 

In her reply after thanking the president for the reception Mother said, “Mr. President, you are wrong.  I have brought not only the love of Christ into my native land but also the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist right into your presidential palace. I have carried Jesus in a pyx to visit my native land, now a communist country, where public worship is a crime. I keep Jesus in the consecrated host in my pocket.  Jesus will surely return to this country very soon.”
Communist rule collapsed in Albania in 1992, and Christians and Muslims reopened their churches and mosques for worship.  The non-Communist president of Albania, Mr. Ramiz Alia, awarded Albanian citizenship to Mother Teresa during her visit to her liberated home country in 1992.  Mr. Alia also created a “Mother Teresa Prize” to be awarded to those who distinguished themselves in the field of humanitarian and charitable work.

Ethiopia suffered a terrible famine during the years 1984 to 1986. Cardinal Hume (March 1923 – June 1999) of Westminster (England) tells us about an incident that happened when he visited Ethiopia in the middle of the famine. One of the places he visited was a settlement in the hills where the people were waiting for food which was likely to arrive. He was taken there by helicopter. As he got out of the helicopter a small boy, aged about ten, came up to him and took his hand. He was wearing nothing but a loincloth around his waist.

The whole time that the Cardinal was there the little child would not let go of his hand. As they went around he made two gestures: with one hand he pointed to his mouth, and with the other he took the Cardinal's hand and rubbed it on his cheek. Later, the Cardinal said, "Here was an orphan boy who was lost and starving. Yet by two simple gestures he indicated two fundamental needs or hungers. With one gesture he showed me his hunger for food, and with the other his hunger for love. I have never forgotten that incident to this day.”

God comes to us in the form of a tiny bread as a living bread. This is God’s act of love. On this feast day of Corpus Christi let us pray to hunger for God’s food and love.

In the Service of the Lord,
   Father Thainese Alphonse



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St. Bernadette Catholic Church