The ministry that I belong to use to operate a “$1 canteen” once a year after Sunday morning masses where every delicious food item was sold for a king’s ransom of only one dollar. Almost every item was sold below the cost of making or obtaining them. We did brisk business at a loss.
An elderly be-spectacled gentleman well into his 70’s helped along in the supporting arms of his wife shuffled up to us needing to say these words, touchingly mumbled “Thank you sir for selling at a dollar for otherwise my wife and I would not afford to eat such good food”.
That night as we laid in bed this passage flashed across our minds, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome”. “Lord” we asked, “When did we see you hungry and feed you?” At that moment the face of that elderly gentleman appeared. “You saw me in the canteen”.
We are no saints. We had argued over the logic of it all. We could not reconcile selling our homemade food items at such a low price after all we used quality ingredients. We struggled when we saw seemingly rich people take advantage of the $1 price by taking away larger quantities. But by the end of the morning many people came up to express appreciation, gratitude and happiness. And we in return felt joy, fulfilment and satisfaction.
We learned a valuable lesson that morning. The success of a Sunday canteen is never measured by how much money we make but by how much happiness it brought to people by an act of pure, unconditional, non-judgmental giving. Rich or poor, people will always be touched by kindness. Rich or poor, kindness from God is available to all.
“I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I will look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandaged the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and the healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.”
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. His is a kingdom established on kindness – a kingdom established for all people without judgement. This was a King who ransomed his life for all of us without a price.
As subjects in his kingdom we can always see the face of our King and be in his company through kind acts especially to strangers. “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of this brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
We saw in the face of the be-spectacled elderly gentleman the face of our King. No doubt he too saw the same face of the King in our faces. The King was present in the canteen. No wonder we felt joy, fulfilment and satisfaction.
We would both have missed that encounter if we had charge more than $1 for food.
The Solemnity of Christ the King