By Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM

In the midst of his disciples' doubts, the gospel today finds Jesus asking: “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them." (Lk 24: 35-48)

In all his post-resurrection narratives, in order to show them that he is alive, in order to tell them it was he, he always asks for something to eat.

He wants to be remembered as sharing of food, as breaking one's bread for the other (this is my body broken for you, this is my blood which is shed for you). He tells us that the Kingdom of God where we all will gather one day is a big banquet and all are welcome.

So the question a child once posed to me makes sense: "Is there food in heaven?" He was apprehensive that heaven might be a boring place. I answered him yes. Yes, we will all eat together in heaven.

And when we start making that banquet to happen today, especially for those who have nothing, we start that heaven on earth. Once we break our bread for those who are hungry, we make Jesus come alive again. We make his resurrection felt in our midst. one example is the community pantries which are replicated all around..

The same “breaking of the bread" also happens in Payatas since the lockdown last year. With "no work no pay" arrangement on ECQ for 60,000 to 70,000 families, food is hard to come by. People get sick when they ha n othing to eat. Those who are already sick and weak, feel more so. One could never imagine not only the physical but also the emotional pains the hungry go through.

We thought that was over for months. But ECQ comes again and, with the incompetence of this government, we do not know for how long.

But there are Good Samaritans who breaks bread with us. Rice for vulnerable families; milk for the small children and PWDs; a decent meal for the malnourished and hungry children; camote and vegetables for the families. Anything that is available, we go and distribute for those who need them.

To avoid stampede in relief operations characteristic of all the government "ayuda", our BEC mothers — with their knowledge of where the really vulnerable people are because they live with them in their midst — do the identification and distribution. Our objective is simple and basic: that no one will die of hunger in Payatas.

We thank the BEC women-leaders who meet every week and risk themselves just to identify and distribute to vulnerable persons. There are 50 of them, and they all stayed with us since last year. They do the marketing, cooking the food, distributing the goods each week. Weekly feeding is more challenging now that physical distancing is the rule. Yet they have persisted doing this for more than a year now.

I once asked them in a recollection-assessment meeting: "Why are you still here? You are also vulnerable. You do not receive anything except for the three kilos of rice like the rest of the families." They shared what they felt in small groups. One group summarized their sharing: "Why are we still here? Because the bible says we have to feed the hungry. For how can we safely stay at home when our neighbor is dying of hunger?"

We also thank the supporters of #VincentHelps since last year until today. Without you, their efforts would not have been possible. We are deeply grateful for your continued support. We will not all mention all their names here. But we have written them and made ourselves accountable for the help. The vulnerable families gave their request: "Paki-pasalamat po sa mga mabubuting-loob."

All of you make Jesus come alive again in our midst - he who asks: "Have you anything here to eat?"

You can see it in their smiles. Some even shed tears of joy. Daghang salamat kaninyong tanan. Ang Diyos maoy Monalisa kaninyo!

Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM
St. Vincent School of Theology
Adamson University