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There are plusses and minuses to being married empty nesters.  One positive is saving money on groceries, but an associated negative is the difficulty in preparing meals for only two people.  Most recipes are designed for at least four which, when followed, means there are usually leftovers.  That can be a problem if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care for leftovers, but for those of us who are fine with them and would rather not waste good food, it can be a really good thing!  When you accumulate enough leftovers you get a bye on deciding what to cook from scratch every now and then.

Also, leftovers, like a spicy pot of chili, just get better after they’ve “seasoned” for an extra day or two.  Even a pineapple upside-down cake like the one my wife made for my birthday this week just gets better each successive day as the pineapple juice and brown sugar syrup soak into the cake below.

I was thinking about leftovers yesterday morning as I read the day’s scripture during my morning meditation.  The Gospel, John 6:1-15, told the story about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes for feeding the five thousand.  After instructing the crowd to recline in the grass, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish that they wanted.   When they had had their fill He said to His disciples, ‘Gather the fragments leftover so that nothing will be wasted.’  So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.”  Jesus’ miracle transformed five loaves and two fish into enough food to nourish and curb the appetites of five thousand people with enough leftovers to repeat again and again. 

Taking the bread and giving thanks is a prefiguring of the miracle performed at every mass when, at the epiclesis, the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit and consecrates the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.  In receiving the Blessed Sacrament, we are at a feast and being fed with all the graces we need to live Holy lives.

But, we are also nourished and sated by the Word of God in Scripture.  When we pray and meditate daily on the life of Jesus in the Gospels, we are lovingly fed with as much as we can eat in one sitting.  We are given exactly what we need for that day to be virtuous souls.  Our job is to listen to and savor His Word, swallow it by relating it to our lives in the present moment, and then digest it by resolving to apply what we hear to living in a more virtuous way.  Then, we simply have to return to the table and repeat each and every day to partake in the perpetual and eternal leftovers.  No worries about not getting enough, about eating too much, or the food spoiling. There will always be another full and satisfying meal the next day.  And, just as day-old chili gets more flavorful, and pineapple upside-down cake gets more moist, each “meal” just gets better!

Jesus will always give us enough to nourish our souls if we invite Him, through prayer, into our hearts to feed us.  What nourishment do you need today?  Sit at the table, partake of the meal, savor each bite, and rejoice that there are enough leftovers for all the days to come.

“Heavenly Father, thank You for slaking my hunger by feeding me with Your Word, and for quenching my thirst with the Living Water, Your Son, Jesus.  I know through faith that You will never let me go hungry as long as I keep returning to the table through prayer and the Sacraments.  Amen.”

(Leftovers was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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