After 56 years in the priesthood, I have seen and experienced many bad and evil things, a great deal of pain and suffering and, yes, serious sinfulness. Nevertheless, I continue to be a strong optimist and have a great deal of confidence in the innate goodness of most people. Just look at the response of the American people to international tragedies. Look at the response within our parishes when this or that problem presents itself. The initial responses are universally generous, sacrificial and make a dramatic difference in lessening the suffering that is confronted in one or another concrete situation. But how long can we maintain it?
I think that there is a tendency among us that once we have been asked to help with this or that program, need, charity, or undertaking we feel that we have properly responded and then go on to think about other things. Several times over the last two years, I have used this space to remind people about the continued suffering in Haiti. When something horrible happens the media covers it immediately and effectively, and the generous response I mention above occurs, but life moves on and gradually these horrors recede from our consciousness.
There is no evil in our forgetting the problems of yesterday. It is simply regrettable. I think we should work hard to maintain sustained assistance to difficult situations if they are not ultimately taken care of and provided for.
Let me take advantage of this opportunity to mention to you once again the Capital Area Food Bank. We know that there is hunger in the South Sudan and that there are really difficult problems in food distribution in Northern Mexico. However, we need also to be conscious of the fact that there are real serious food problems in Austin, Texas.
None of us can respond adequately to the needs that are before us but our society has gradually developed programs and organizations in which by contributing a little bit of ourselves and our resources we can make a dramatic difference. For this, I would like to mention Meals on Wheels. It is a wonderful organization that day-by-day feeds thousands of sick and elderly people who are in desperate need, not only of food but of the encouragement that comes from somebody coming to their front door, bringing warm food and, equally important, placing their arm around them and letting them know that they are remembered and loved.