Tuesday, November 25, 2003 12:06 AM CST
By: Gary DeVaul
Sunday night was "Leftover Night" when I was a kid. Mom would gather up all the stuff in the refrigerator, warm it, mix it, stir it, and fill the house with the most incredible aromas. My mom, as yours, was a great cook, and nothing could bring her talent to the forefront like Leftovers.
Jesus was big on Leftovers too. The story of five loaves, two fish, and the feeding of five thousand at Galilee is familiar to us all. In fact it's such an important story that it's the only one of its kind that is repeated in all four gospels.
The disciples were tired. They had been working with Jesus all day. Teaching, preaching, healing, and comforting the people and one another, can make for physical and emotional exhaustion. Jesus wanted them to rest, and he took them off to a quiet place beside the Sea of Galilee, only to be followed by thousands of people. Faced with all these people, the disciples came to Jesus and basically said we're beat. It's time to send these folks home to eat. They must be hungry. It is a bit like riding down Route One in York, Maine, with Mark. Every time we passed his favorite hamburger place, a place called "Wild Willy's", he would say, "Hey Gary are you hungry?" The fact is that he wanted a hamburger! And in the story of the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples are saying that they're hungry and they want to rest. But Jesus doesn't let them pass the buck onto the five thousand. He said, "You feed them".
Now the disciples knew they didn't have two hundred Denarii with which to buy bread, and they knew Jesus knew it as well. So they threw the problem back to Jesus, and they said, "Shall we go buy bread?" Of course, He had none of it, and replied, "OK you guys where are the leftovers?" Well, there were two measly fish and five loaves of bread, which, incidentally, adds up to seven.
Seven is the number that represents perfection to the Jews. There's a deeper meaning here, and the numbers are the tip-off. Well, Jesus blessed the leftovers and fed the five thousand. The Five is symbolic of the number of books in the Torah, which is the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law that demands this kind of hospitality. When all is said and done, there are enough leftovers to fill the disciples' twelve baskets. The Twelve represents the twelve tribes of Israel, the symbolism of which is fulfilled in the twelve disciples. The twelve baskets of leftovers are the remnants with which the disciples are to feed the world. And they are feeding the world today. It is a wonderful event that spoke directly to the hearts of the Jewish people, tapping into their knowledge of history and casting them forward in the broader context of the world. It is a story told and retold by the evangelist in every gospel, a story that incorporates a command to us today. Don't overlook the leftovers. Feed My People.
There were many nights and days that I was privileged to watch what was left of Mark rest and sleep. There was a heap of leftovers in that bed. In conversations with Jeremy, John, and others, there was always one underlying concept. There was never any doubt, no, not one. We, like many who knew him, felt in our gut that Mark would not only survive, he would thrive! If it was said once, it was thought a hundred times. If it has to happen to someone, he's the one who can handle it. And handle it he is.
Mark has appeared on television, He's caught the attention of radio broadcasters. There are books being written about him that will inspire others to bless the leftovers and feed one another. People have been inspired to give and live differently. Concerts and benefits are being planned as I write to you. Music is being composed and, most importantly, lives are being changed on the deepest levels. We are learning to lift and bless the leftovers of life, because in them reside the seeds of our faith and our hope for the future of the Church.
Leftovers, they're a blessing. They are the reason for Thanksgiving!