Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Even though today’s readings didn’t partake of the wedding feast at Cana (we save that for Christmas season, with its tie-in to Epiphany), still today’s readings (Isaiah 25:6-10a, Ps. 23, Matt. 15:29-37) emphasize a special characteristic of Messianic hope: that of abundance. So Isaiah promises a rich feast; Jesus supplies a meal for a vast crowd with seven loaves and a few fish. There is no better sign of abundance than that of the great feast (such a constant theme in Jesus’ preaching).

But I go back to my personal past. In (Polish) Chicago banquets are de rigeur after all kinds of events, including and especially funerals. After I celebrated my Mom’s funeral Mass in 2005, and after the graveside, about 45 of us went to “our” banqueting hall—virtually across the street from Resurrection Cemetery. It had previously been the site of my sister’s and my youngest brother’s weddings, my Dad’s funeral lunch, and my maternal grandparents’ lunches.

Things there are “family style”—bowls of food brought to the tables. Kielbasa (Polish sausage, for the uninitiated!), chicken, green beans, salad, rolls/rye bread, mashed potatoes, pasta… Whatever folks wanted to drink was brought, and then of course coffee and Polish desserts. We all, to paraphrase the Gospel, ate and had our fill.

There was only one problem: when serving “family style,” what are going to do with the food in the bowls uneaten? It cannot be served again to others…

As I was paying the bill for the lunch, I engaged the owner in a conversation, commenting that we all ate well and a great deal. He remarked that he didn’t believe folks should leave there hungry. And I said, “But isn’t there a great deal of waste?” “Not at all,” he assured me—every bit of ‘leftover’ food was donated (properly, he assured me) to a nearby Catholic church that sponsored a supper kitchen for the poor. I was thrilled to sign that chit!

This is the hallmark of the Messianic banquet: abundance, and room for the poor as well. All are welcome; none will be turned away hungry. The wedding feast of the Lamb must be one that enables healing the heart and soul as well as filling the stomach.

This is our Lord, and His supper is our appetizer: the Eucharist is the foretaste of the ultimate banquet at which no one is turned away, all are satisfied, and everyone is marked by joy, healing, reconciliation, and love.

Who’s hungry? Come to the feast of heaven and earth/Come to the table of plenty!

1 comment:

  1. What a homey blog account...loved and relished brought to mind the late Bishop Ken Untener who said that every diocesan meeting held in Saginaw (where he was Ordinary/Bishop) must begin with the question: in what we are doing here and does this relate to the poor!, for the important question: Where can one get some REAL kielbasa...we love it but are reduced to "Hillshire" which isn't bad but not like that which we once were able to get in N.J.