This evening in Dublin, people are gathering in the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People to pack 3,000 food parcels. These parcels will be distributed to the poor of Dublin tomorrow morning. People will queue outside the Centre from early in the morning in whatever weather tomorrow may bring.
The people who will come tomorrow do so to receive practical help; food to tide them over the Christmas period. Many also come to wish Br Kevin and the staff of the Day Centre a happy Christmas and to thank them for all they do over the course of the year.
I worked as a volunteer in the Capuchin Day Centre before I joined then order and again as a Capuchin student. The 'back packing', as it is known, is one of the highlights of the year. The atmosphere is friendly and festive; a mix of music, mince pies and Christmas jumpers!
Behind the festivity is the deep rooted desire to help others. This desire is in all human hearts and not alone the property of us Franciscans! However our founder St Francis took this desire to a new level as he ministered to the needs of the poor ( usually lepers) in his time and place. As St Francis was dying he told the Friars 'God has shown me what was mine to do, now let him show you what is yours'.
We can't be exactly like St Francis and that's not the point anyway. What we can be is authentically ourselves as God calls us to be. I we aim to do this we will discover that when we live authenticity we begin to find within us the desire to reach out to others as St Francis did; in live and without need for anything in return.
Every bag that is packed tonight is a living put of the gospel call to help those in need. It's very Franciscan, very Capuchin but mostly, it's very human.
May the Lord give you Peace!
Br Martin OFM Cap.
Vocation Promotor for the Irish Capuchin Franciscan Friars.