by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Jesus, according to the four Gospels, welcomed everyone with his healing embrace. In fact, his outreach began with those who were not welcomed anywhere else. He placed them at the center of his community of peace, love and nonviolence. He put them in the center of his nonviolent vision, his all-inclusive mission.
I’ve been thinking about this these last few weeks while spending time at one of the Bay Area’s Catholic Worker houses on Kelly Avenue in Half Moon Bay. What a blessing this has been for me. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker precisely to fulfill Jesus’ commandments to invite the poor, welcome the poor, serve the poor and defend the poor.
That’s what we’ve been doing in Half Moon Bay amidst the roaring waves of the nearby ocean and the gentle morning fog. Every week, food is picked at the nearby organic farm and distributed to the hungry as well as served at the soup kitchen. Many other good deeds are done as well, and it’s hard for me to keep track of it all. Here, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, as Jesus recommended. We’ve been hosting a homeless family, serving the local homeless and trying to meet their most immediate needs. That means the work never ends.
One morning, for example, we distributed clothes, furniture, freshly picked organic vegetables, and bread to several dozen women and children, probably from local farm worker families. The day before, I went with Katerina, a young Mennonite volunteer who has been working here all year, to the nearby Safeway. They have to throw out all bread products that have reached their due date, so they gladly donate it to the Worker. We loaded up our truck with hundreds of loaves of bread as well as rolls and cakes. In the end, we couldn’t give it all away, and had to throw some of it out.…