Last weekend, a number of people gave me what they termed were “leftovers” from their Thanksgiving tables. All the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pecan and pumpkin pie were delicious. “Leftovers” has a bit of a negative connotation, hinting that they are eaten just to avoid being wasteful. I love these “leftovers” as much, if not more, than when the food is eaten right after cooked or baked. The flavor is usually more intense and I am not filled up with all the eating that goes on before sitting down for the main event.
In addition , I am eating food that was put on a table that brought together many family and friends. Through these “leftovers” I was a part of a number of wonderful celebrations, even though I was not physically present. And the food was made with such love and care.
In the gospel today, jesus is surrounded by hundreds of hungry people and wants to satisfy their hunger…spiritual and physical. When the people had eaten their fill, the “leftovers” filled SEVEN baskets, the number of days it took God to create the days , which included the day of rest. Seven is also a number that signifies completion. Jesus did not discard the leftovers but saved them in baskets.
Perhaps to “complete ” the meal, these “leftovers ” we’re given to the poor, and in the feeding of the poor, the deepest hungers of the people were truly satisfied. Eating leftover food connects the one eating with those who have prepared and already eaten.
The ” Leftovers” become a bridge, spiritually connecting people who could not be present as the meal was first served, with those who ate the meal. This “bridge” of food heals loneliness and warms hearts, as much as it satisfies physical hunger.
When I think of what kind of Thanksgiving I had, I remember not only the meal I shared with my family on the day itself, but several other meals surrounded by loving people. All the leftovers made this possible. My feast was truly complete in the eating of these leftovers, which filled “seven baskets” to the brim and beyond. The deepest hungers of the heart are fed with simple “leftovers.” My day was “complete.”
Buen camino. Padre