Five kilos of rice and one umbrella | Inquirer News

Five kilos of rice and one umbrella

/ 07:02 AM June 02, 2013

The man had a quarrel with his wife.  In lower households, the clash would have sent the plates flying and the man seeking the shelter of a wall. But the woman did not even raise her voice, which, whether loud or soft, the man would find deafening, his guilt being the butt of her barbs. He had confessed to getting another woman pregnant.  He, however, attempted to absolve himself, branding the other woman’s condition as an “accidental pregnancy.” He blamed the “wrongdoing” on a wingding — it happened at a party where they met, and the girl slipped a drug into his drink, whose power instantly put him, not out, but on to something sinful. The wife found his explanation completely strained, and declared that she was abandoning him. This alarmed the man, who weepily pleaded with her to stay, even for just one hour, but she had made up her mind, and perhaps, as is a woman’s nature, with a husband so accident-prone, she must have made and unmade up her mind many times before, but now she was blowing hot, and cold be damned.

She picked up her bags and hailed a taxi.  The man tried to pull her back, and when she slipped out of his hold, he ran to the front of the taxi and dared his wife to command the driver to run him over.

There was music at this point, a bridge passage from Wagner that marked the end of the scene, which was followed by the commercials.  I turned to the driver — myself was riding a taxi and listening to the soap on the radio. I commented that, instead of running the man over, the taxi could just turn around, or swerve to the left or right, and follow another route. The driver agreed, adding, with a feigned regret and a hope that I would understand, that he needed to have the taxi radio tuned to the radio station the entire time for a chance of winning five kilos of rice and an umbrella. He let on that there were agents who randomly rode on taxis unrecognized, and if they found the driver listening to the radio station, they would include his name in a raffle, the winner of which received the rice and umbrella.


Thank God he did not depend on the raffle to feed his family, but such was his take from driving that five kilos of rice would sustain his family for an extra day, or free some of his income to be used for school supplies for his children, and, the start of school being likewise the start of the rains, they would likewise need an umbrella for cover during a downpour like the puffer fish at the onrush of water.


Broadly, this is how the world feeds the needy, in a hit and miss manner.  And the food it offers is not true nourishment — it only satisfies a superficial hunger, consistent with the world’s concern to provide no more than, not that it can give anything beyond, just bread and circuses, mere diversions to keep the heart and mind away from the ultimate things, the things of God.

Contrast this with Jesus’ action when the apostles told him of the need before dark to dismiss the crowd that had followed them so they could go to nearby villages where provisions were available. Luke writes that instead Jesus instructed the twelve themselves to give the people something to eat. When they complained that they only had five loaves and two fish, Jesus had the crowd sit in groups of fifty each, blessed the loaves and fish and had them distributed to the multitude, who all ate to satisfaction, and still there were twelve baskets of broken pieces left over.

I have no doubts that this incident prefigured the Eucharist, which Jesus instituted at the Last Supper when while appearing the same the bread and wine became in substance his very own body and blood, which he urged the apostles to partake of. Daily throughout the world, there is the same consecration and communion of the bread and wine.

Somehow I associate the five kilos of rice and the umbrella that the taxi driver hoped to win with the five loaves and two fish in Luke’s Gospel. In the process, the driver was able to listen to high drama, or whatever was the genre du jour on radio.

At the Mass, during the Consecration, the priest narrates the institution of the Eucharist, which hints at the high drama that followed the Last Supper and came to a climax on Calvary, which has gained for me and for those who believe the food that Christ offers, his body and blood. Reflecting on this, St. Thomas Aquinas exclaimed, “Panis angelicus fit panis hominum!” (The angelic bread becomes the bread of men!) “O res mirabilis!” (Oh what wonder!)

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TAGS: faith

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