Crumbs: Lost Blessings

Christ is risen!

Truly He is risen! 

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And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.  So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.  (John 6:11-13)

It is interesting that Jesus provides food abundantly for the thousands to eat, yet He is concerned about the leftovers which He doesn’t want to go to waste.  So He orders the leftovers be gathered together so nothing is lost (see also John 6:1-14).  Will not the Lord, who is concerned that food crumbs not be lost, also be similarly concerned with every human being? We should not be wishing that any are permanently separated from God, but rather should be saddened, as Jesus is, that any might end up separated from God and lost from the Kingdom.  He came exactly to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  And He gathers together even the crumbs, the leftovers, the debris, the refuse and saves them too.  St Paul identifies himself with the refuse and offscouring of the world (1 Corinthians 4:13) – the world doesn’t want this scrap and sweepings, but Christ does.

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The superabundance of the Kingdom of heaven does not result in wastefulness as it often does in the world among those who have more than enough.  There is no such thing in the Kingdom as too many and certainly there are none who are expendable for all are fully loved by God.  As Jesus said about little birds: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

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We aren’t given the over abundance in order that we have too much or such an excess that we frivolously throw away good things. We are instructed by Jesus to gather together everything we have been given to share with those in need. St Paul writes: “... as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack” (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).  Rather, we are “enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11-12).  If the blessings you have been given aren’t also supplying the needs of others and resulting in an outpouring of thanksgiving to God, then you are being wasteful.

Something for all of us to consider in our families and parishes when we have meals or dinners or feasts that instead of throwing out or wasting the excess food we give it to those in need so that they can be blessed by the abundance of the Kingdom of heaven.  We should be looking for the ways to share our abundance of goods and of thanksgiving.

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We can also call to mind the parable of the poor Lazarus and the rich man: “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table… (Luke 16:19-21)

In Matthew 15:7, the Canaanite woman reminds Jesus that even crumbs falling from the tables of the rich don’t go to waste for their dogs lick up the crumbs.  Yet in the parable, Lazarus desired even to be able to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table, yet no one gave him any – the poor man is treated worse than pet dogs for our pet dogs are in our kitchens and around our tables, but we don’t invite the poor and hungry to help themselves to our leftovers.  We prefer to wastefully throw them away because that is safer than having the poor around.

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Nothing of the Kingdom is to be wasted. Thus says the Lord: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” Isaiah 55:10-11).  In our homes and in our parishes, we should be good stewards of every little thing that God gives us, for God is in the details!  In our parishes we might remind ourselves of this instead of dropping the crumbs of the of the antidoron or from the well laden fellowship meals and then sweeping them up and throwing them away, we should just be much more careful even with the crumbs so that every bit of the blessing is received by us and results in thanksgiving to God.  All of it is holy if we have the eyes to see.  This doesn’t mean that we need ‘crumb police’ to arrest those who drop food, but only that we should teach everyone to treat blessings with respect and to find ways not to be wasteful, profligate or prodigal.  One of the down sides of having an abundance of anything is that we become wasteful and careless with it because there is always plenty more where it came from.   It requires a little more effort on our part to treat the excess we have as a God-given gift to be shared with others in need.