The Gospels often show us Christ dining with family and friends, Pharisees and tax collectors (Luke 5: 29-32), his intimate group of twelve and the multitude.
And always there were leftovers. Well, one time at the wedding in Cana they ran short of wine—but thanks to the intervention of Mary, He fixed that problem quickly. The guests were served the best wine of the evening right at the end (John 2: 1-10). Nice touch.
Cassoulet, Fruitcake and Family
As we draw to the close of 2010, my family and I were just as charmed at how, in these leftover days of a rocky year, good friends, Mike and Marie-José Fassiotto, transformed Christmas leftovers into a feast leavened with laughter and family stories. We enjoyed a wonderful cassoulet filled with the last of the Christmas ham, sausages and beans and finished off with cheese and a chocolate Yule Log that had bided its time patiently.
Ending a year that took us back to family in Malaysia and Singapore, we also consume the last of a truly exceptional, moist and crumbly fruitcake lovingly prepared in my mother’s kitchen in Kuala Lumpur. Raisins, sultanas, candied ginger and citrus peel, cashew nuts and semolina laced with cognac and more, melt in our mouths and remind us of my mother’s skill as a cake-maker and my sister, Elaine’s determination that we have Mum’s cake in far away Hawaii. No leftovers from this cake.
But perhaps we are the leftovers from the greatest feast of all: the one we memorialize at every celebration of the Eucharist. As we remember the almost unimaginable sacrifice of Life to gain life, it’s hard not to feel each time that our cup runneth over in ways that we do not always deserve. And because it does, we are called to share the goodness that comes unbidden into our lives so that it spills over into the lives of those who have too little simply because of the accidents of geography and the mistakes of history that the world is too slow to correct.
We will not gather up 12 wicker baskets of leftovers after the meal (Luke 9: 13-17). Perhaps we won’t feed five thousand. But if we can keep one person from going hungry we might be on our way to replicating the abundant giving of the Eucharist.
Feeding Family, Friends . . .and strangers
Christ had some tough recommendations on guest lists:
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14: 12-14)
We are glad nonetheless that we made the Fassiottos’ guest list for their delicious meal of leftovers. At this time of year, it reminded us that “leftovers” may be what will speak most eloquently for the transformative power of what we serve others at the banquet of our lives.