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David's life

21 August 2013

This is one of a series of weekly Christian reflections and prayers for the IF campaign that focuses on the theme of 'Our Daily Bread', with contributors from CAFOD, Tearfund and Christian Aid.

This week's reflection is a contribution from CAFOD.

Guatemalan slum housing  

Did you know that for poor people in Guatemala, breast feeding is a way of celebrating God's love on Earth, when circumstances allow?

But when you are poor, the child of a large family and have parents living with HIV, it is difficult to put this idea into practice.

David is two years old and lives in a village in Alta Verapaz. His mother, unaware that she was HIV positive, brought him into the world with a normal birth and breastfed him for four months, until we met her and had to insist that he was weaned.

Imagine being weaned when your parents are desperately poor and don't have enough food for a sixth mouth.

And so when we prayed with them 'give us our daily bread', I wondered what David’s mother must think when each day dawns and she has to go without food in order to provide her children with their daily bread.

It's for this reason that her viral defences drop and she gets sick.

And so does her husband, who spends days unable to work or contribute to the family economy because he suffers from the same condition of HIV and malnutrition.

Could this be a representation of Jesus, who gave his own life as a sacrifice to others?

There is a text in Ecclesiastes that reads: 'People’s basic life needs are water, fire, iron, salt, wheat flour, milk, honey, grape juice, oil and clothing.'

This makes me think of the life of little David who, lacking these nutrients in his food, doesn't have his daily bread.

Fortunately, he is still HIV negative.

  • It is necessary to bring the Lord's Prayer to life by striving for better living conditions.'

And so we should celebrate the phrase 'give us our daily bread', assuming that many children like David do have enough to eat.

You can imagine a child without breast milk, when breast milk is one of the few complete foods, and also a symbol of consolation - 'God makes milk into a symbol of salvation.' (Isaiah 66:10-14.)

We offer acts of fasting and prayer to Our Lord. But these will have value only if we realise that the best cure for illnesses like malaria, HIV and malnutrition isn't just about medicines and prayer.

It's also necessary to bring the Lord's Prayer to life by striving for better living conditions for men, women, girls and boys and making God's 'kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.'

In the Lord's Prayer, we ask for bread in abundance - not only in the form of food, but also as opportunities for those who don't have enough for their daily needs in places that are forgotten by those who have food in abundance, yet who waste it and don't share it.

We know that Christ is life and, being life, is bread.

Dr Conchita Reyes, coordinator of the health ministry in Verapaz Diocese, Guatemala.


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