Today’s Special: Leftovers

What we painfully fail to grasp or perhaps too casually shun aside is that we are created by a God who never intended to leave our side, let alone see us as a ‘leftover’.

Today’s Special: Leftovers
Brinelle D’Cruz (Youth Ignited for Christ (YI4C, Qatar)

Have you ever returned from a long journey or an outdoor trip, and the best thing you can do with is a nice hot shower followed by a good home cooked meal? I remember coming home once after a long flight and since it was odd time in the morning, the only food that my mother could give me were the leftovers from the previous night. Turns out, we had some family friends who visited us the night before, so she had cooked up an absolutely sumptuous meal which meant the leftovers I got to eat were exactly what my hungry tummy was longing for! All I can say is that leftovers had never tasted so good before.

A few weeks ago, the Gospel reading at Mass was from the Gospel of John – a familiar passage where Jesus feeds a crowd of five thousand people and more. After the crowds had eaten, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” (Jn 6:12) The priest followed up on this verse during His sermon with something that stayed with me as I walked out of Church that day. He explained how Jesus did not allow for any food to be wasted, and if He did that for something consumable, think about how much more He cares for every life He has created. Not one life that was created was ever meant to be wasted!

Think about it! So many organizations all over the world today work towards reducing food wastage, but what about lives that we so easily dump off as waste? This isn’t just reflected in the increasing rate of abortions. Think about relationships that only exist on a use and throw basis – friendships that can be added and removed by the touch of a button – those economies wherein educated professionals are willing to do any kind of work in order to secure a steady job. Pope Francis, in one of His recent homilies condemned exactly this sort of ‘throw-away culture’ of our times.

I’m sure as youth; many of us feel like a leftover at some point in our life. We hear scores of testimonies of youth seeing themselves as rejects and outcasts in schools, colleges’ workplaces and even so alarmingly in their own homes. There’s always someone who seems to be better than us. Whether it is beauty, riches, relationships…it feels like the world can find it all in someone else but us.

What we painfully fail to grasp or perhaps too casually shun aside is that we are created by a God who never intended to leave our side, let alone see us as a ‘leftover’.

Food is never cooked with an intention to keep it aside as a leftover. Yes the guests may come and probably fill themselves up with other food laid out on the table, but remember everything that was planned to be served was laid out on the table. Do we know and believe that we have a Father who doesn’t just wipe off, but rather gathers even the leftovers? He brings them together because they are the fruit of His miraculous providence and the outworking of his amazing grace.

I find it remarkable how Jesus engaged with his disciples in gathering these fragments. It could not have been an easy task, having to wade through a crowd of that number, bending down to the ground to pick up all those leftover pieces. And yet in the fallen broken fragments we see the un-fragmented love of a God who is willing to bend down or rather stoop down in order to fill our weary empty souls.

The use of human instruments to collect the leftovers speaks volumes of the Father’s mission to ensure the ripe harvest shall be made available for every hungry child. In this divine assignment, He will meticulously send people in our lives that will toil and go through any amount of labor in order to have the sheep return to the Shepherd’s flock.

I have had the privilege of watching my own youth leader’s labor tirelessly in order to gather many broken and fragmented youth, out of their obedience to the Father’s calling of their lives. I feel compelled and drawn to do the same.

I’m sure there are many of us still wondering what happens after the leftovers have been gathered. The scripture passage does not respond to this question either. I think it is rightly so because that is God’s plan for each of our individual lives.

However here’s a thought – if leftover food is stored in the refrigerator so that it can be consumed at a later time; know that in all those times you have felt rejected and worthless, our Father hasn’t given up on you. In fact he’s drawing you back to Him so that everything He made you to be, and good and perfect gift designed for you is preserved!

Trust Him, as he satisfies your own hunger, that He is able to pick up the fragmented pieces of your life, make them whole and use you to satisfy another hungry soul.