On a recent summer morning as I was preparing to go on an errand of mercy, I found myself addressing God in the words that Jesus said to Peter when Peter couldn’t stay awake and pray with Him the night before the crucifixion: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” How many times in these last many weeks of events in our nation and throughout the world have I paused to reflect on my own weakness in doing what the gospel of Jesus asks of me? It is nearly impossible to follow through without God’s help. That is why prayer is so especially important!
Sometimes I borrow the words of scripture, or other times, the words prayed by those we name as our saints. This brief plea of Mother Teresa, is especially fitting for us who aspire to grow in humility as we live our Vincentian vocation in humble and demanding service:
“Make us worthy, O Lord, to serve our fellow human beings…”
Lately, I have had occasions to see the special works of our area Vincentians as they live out Jesus’ mandate to “feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty” through the ministry of the Matchan Nutrition Center. Appropriately so, this ministry is done from a facility of the St. Vincent de Paul church, Pontiac, Michigan. All through the year, meals are prepared and served to 150-200 neighbors every Tuesday and Thursday by a crew of committed volunteers who are some of the hardest working, and most dedicated folks I have even seen.
Along with the nutritious meals served, there are, normally, other needed services provided for the guests in this social setting. However, during this time since mid-March with all the restrictions that are in place as we protect one another from the Corona 19 Virus spread, the work of the Matchan Nutrition Center has had to adapt constantly without missing a beat in serving the hungers of our neighbors.
With social distancing restrictions, the hot meals turned into “take out” sack meals, served from a tent- like covering that did not always protect from the sleet, the wind, rain, and now the warm sunshine. While some are serving outside in the elements, a whole crew is in the hot kitchen diligently preparing the nutritious food. The area that Matchan serves is literally a food dessert, with grocery stores at a great distance for those with little or no transportation.
Because the Matchan volunteers are so diligent in finding resources and maintaining relationships, including regularly picking up and hauling grocery donations from generous businesses, neighbors-in-need are also able to pick up needed fresh vegetables, fruits, breads, cheese and other food items they can use. Nothing goes to waste!