Pope Francis has a reputation for being a straight shooter on many of today’s social and religious issues. He can sharply defend the traditional teachings of the Church and at the same time deliver barbed challenges for change in its administration and bureaucracy. He is a powerful defender of the plight of the world’s poor and a critic of modern economies that keep people in poverty.
A trip around our supermarkets and shopping malls before Christmas is a glittering picture of how well off most Australians are. It’s a time to spend up big on food and luxuries. We are addicted consumers and Christmas reveals many people at their most extravagant. Is it all about love for family and neighbour or mostly a revelation of how selfish we have become?
Come the week after, how much of it, especially food, will end up being thrown away?
“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry”, said Pope Francis last June. “Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily, and we are unable to see its real value” contrasted with the frugality of our grandparents who “used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food.”
I do not know what the figure is for Australia, but in the US 30% is the quoted amount of all food thrown away each year.
This Christmas and after let’s be careful. The austerity of Pope Francis may not appeal to all, but there’s some good in reconsidering the carefulness of our forbears.
Even as recently as the Second World War when food was rationed, the slogan was “buy it with thought, cook it with care, serve just enough, and use what is left.” Still worth thinking about today!
A blessing always comes to those who share with those in need. And we could specially support those food businesses in our community that regularly donate their unsold perishables and produce to local charities to distribute among the needy.
Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett,
Bishop of Lismore, 23 December 2013.