More than a year has passed since our first case of COVID-19 in the United States and without doubt, it has changed the way we live. We have reignited the need to care for one another and learned that distancing ourselves from others and wearing masks is not just for our safety but is an act of love that protects our sisters and brothers around us. As we continue to implement preventative measures to stop the spread of the pandemic in our communities, the needs of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters around the world are asking us for a gesture of humanity and unity. The Lord wants to open our eyes so that we can recognize him in them.
Hunger has a permanent presence worldwide, to the point that many who are not directly affected have become used to it. Nevertheless, one in nine experience hunger, and the issue is being amplified as COVID-19 continues to impact our lives and the lives of those most vulnerable. The cry of the Earth and those who suffer hunger cannot be silenced anymore. And we must open our eyes to our sisters and brothers, especially as we continue to grapple with the current state of the pandemic.
Thanks to the efforts of medical professionals and all who are on the first line of defense of COVID-19, we have a glimpse of hope that we are turning a corner in the COVID-19 battle. Despite this, we, the world, and our common home have intertwined challenges with deep common roots—including hunger and a changing climate—that we also must face head-on. This reality requires a concerted effort from all of us because even though these hardships exist, we can make a difference if we open our eyes and take the first step.
Prayer is the most powerful tool we have in our toolbox, which is why Catholic Relief Services launched a 10-minute online hunger retreat that invites you to see and approach these challenges differently. CRS's work worldwide provides a holistic approach that empowers the people with whom we are working. Our goal is to enhance resilience among our global family to lead the way in their own communities. It is through this lens and the lens of the Gospel that we invite you to look differently at the world around you—to reflect on the reality of our global family through this self-guided retreat.
We are learning the value of a committed and dignifying gaze—an attentive look at the reality surrounding us as one human family, a look with God's eyes and a look with eyes that love. Through the retreat you’ll be invited to open your eyes and gaze upon what can happen when we all act as one body.
This month when we reflect on the importance of caring for all creation, let us deepen our faith and pray with the online hunger retreat for those most vulnerable in global community. Let us see, with new eyes, the challenges our common home is facing due to global hunger and COVID-19. Let us pray for a continued joint response to change lives and ease the pain of those who are most affected by these pressing issues.
As we learn in the Gospel of John, a loving and supportive look is not only possible; it is within our reach—and it is required of us. In these moments of confusion and pain caused by the pandemic and hunger around the world, we can see beyond our own needs and our pain. Like the blind in Jericho, let us say, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us! ...Lord, we want our eyes to be opened” (Matthew 20:31-33). And when we go out to meet Christ in our sisters and brothers, let us also say, “God was here and did not know it "(Genesis 28:1); I knew you only by hearsay; now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5).
Luis Beteta is a writer and editor at Catholic Relief Services. Through the development and transcreation of resources for thematic campaigns, Luis promotes Catholics and other people of goodwill's participation in the United States in CRS's work around the world.