Easter is here! We celebrate that Jesus is risen, defeating the power of death - and all our expectations in life take on a new light. And interestingly, even food takes on a new meaning!

Back to all stories | Posted on 04/06/23 in Blog

It’s a repeated pattern in the Gospels: after the resurrection, Jesus appears to His followers and shares food with them. At Lake Galilee, He calls the apostles in the boat to “come and have breakfast”; when He appears behind closed doors in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, He asks His followers for something to eat; and He is made known to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus through the breaking of bread. 

Why is food involved in these encounters? Food is essential, of course. However, the people we share it with are even more important. The disciples share the goodness of the meal and are also united in astonishing joy because of the guest who is among them. Jesus – their hope, guidance, inspiration, and strength – had been taken from them in a terrible way but is now alive again. He is so truly, physically living that He can eat with them – and even cook for them! They have been hungry for His presence, and He comes to meet their deepest longings. 

At Easter, we are led to a new horizon of hope,  the promise of the redemption of suffering. Jesus came among humanity with an invitation to joy and fulfillment through following Him. He comes to invite us to a Feast.  

What is a feast?

Easter is the greatest feast in the Church’s calendar, and the Kingdom of Heaven is often referred to as a “feast”. But what is a feast, exactly?

A feast isn’t a binge or a party, or even just a spread of delicious food. It’s much more fulfilling than that. It is more like the ideal wedding: a beautiful, meaningful occasion to gather with family and friends, where deep joy is experienced, and hopes and dreams are celebrated with beauty and love. It is a collection of many elements of what is good in life, highlighting and treasuring them. It is something to prepare for and look forward to, and to remember with gladness afterward.

When you are hungry, not just for food, but also for deep human connection and you experience a feast, a sense of rejoicing can resonate in both your body and soul.

Those who are not present at the feast

It is a deep sorrow when a person finds themselves hungry. Not simply because they lack food, but because of the whole web of circumstances causing this. Food is such a basic need, and society is so fundamentally ordered around creating food security, that to find yourself without enough to eat means that a vast number of things have gone wrong and are unjust in your life.

It also creates deep sadness when you are not invited to a celebration. Whether a children’s birthday party, an anniversary, a reunion, or a get-together, the sadness isn’t really that you didn’t get the goodies on offer, but rather that you were overlooked, or that relationships were broken and a welcome was not extended. 

Those who are hungry and excluded by society are pointed out in the Gospel time and again as those who will become first, those who are invited, and those who are wanted by Jesus, who wants to transform every human experience of sorrow.

Gathering for a feast

The mission of Mary’s Meals is to seek out the little ones who are hungriest, and also to seek out those who have gifts to contribute, bringing them together.

With Mary’s Meals this Easter, many people are sharing food with others and making sure they are included.

We believe in the innate goodness of people, and that with all the good material things this world is capable of producing, we are called to share. We believe that communities in areas of wealth, but also areas of poverty can give what they have: whether financial assistance, prayer, material help, effort, strategy, and service.

A beautiful aspect of Mary’s Meals is community participation – gathering many people together around the good and positive aim to provide for children’s future. From grassroots supporters in many countries who fundraise in creative, generous, and faithful ways, to local volunteers who often wake at dawn and walk miles day after day to prepare food in school canteens, there are tens of thousands of individuals committed to making sure that 2.4 million children receive a meal every school day.

Replacing sorrow with joy

Mary’s Meals often operates in areas where war has torn communities apart, like South Sudan or Ethiopia, and where a resurrection of positive community connections is needed to heal the social fabric. It also exists in natural disaster zones like earthquake-struck Syria, where rekindling hope and rebuilding normal patterns are needed. A Mary’s Meals volunteer may have witnessed great turmoil in their communities; they may have longed for a program like this in their childhood and are taking responsibility for providing it to others; they may have deep concerns about the future of the children in their area. Volunteer motivations are often empathy, hope, gratitude, solidarity, and kindness – all expressions of love.  

Ultimately, a feast is not characterized just by the food: it’s about bringing people together around a reason to rejoice. The food that is provided is important: however, your presence and your love are also powerful signs of living hope to someone who needs to witness it. The deepest reason to rejoice is that Love is alive among us.

This Easter, we thank you wholeheartedly for all that you do to invite others to the feast, and we pray that many more children will be offered a place at the table where they belong.