Daily Reflection
December 4th, 2002
Ray Bucko, S.J.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
Martyred Churchwomen of El Salvador
Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Matthew 15:29-37

Food glorious food!  I grew up in a large Polish family with family friends who were Italian and many of my parents' customers (they were both hairdressers) were Jewish.  So wherever I would turn there would be food -- for good times, for sad times, for birthdays, for funerals, and even just for tasting!  One of my neighbors was a great Italian cook and she insisted I taste her sauce whenever it was being prepared (which was every day).  She would literally call out to me from her window as I would pass her house. Needless to say I always routed myself strategically.  This is the same lady who made snails for me once (she let me see them alive before they were cooked -- a real thrill for an eight year old boy) and told me how her mother once made snails but forgot to put the lid on the pot...  there was a massive escape with snails all over her house!!  So we grew up eating, cooking, telling stories about food, learning recipes, exchanging recipes and their results, and even laughing about food.

My mother always said that cooking was the best way to show one's love!

Cooking used to have a large element of anticipation to it-- my mother started the Thanksgiving turkey the night before and woke up hourly to baste it!  I would wake up on Sundays listening and trying to guess if the sound I heard was rain or bacon frying.  Christmas required days of food preparation.  So did Easter.  When my sister from Porcupine, South Dakota, and I cook Chinese food together we literally spend the whole day for a feast that will last but a few hours.   On the Lakota Indian reservation all the food at a ceremonial feast must be displayed to the gathered community before it is distributed -- some to eat there and the rest to take home!

Advent is the season of anticipation -- -waiting for the Lord to come as a child and waiting for the Lord to come in final glory.  We live in a culture that dishonors anticipation and waiting.  Our food is fast food, drive through, microwave, instant, eat alone, eat while driving, eat while watching television!  We're definitely missing something!

We are missing, the anticipation, the preparation, and the sharing.

Both readings remind us of  these essential elements.  Isaiah tells us that at the final times there will be a great feast of choicest foods that the Lord will prepare.  Matthew tells us of the miraculous feeding with loaves and fishes.

But in both cases the crowds must wait, wait for the Lord, sit down, trust, think, pray, prepare and THEN enjoy what the Lord has shared with us and share this with one another.  Eat!

We look at the many miracles in the scriptures and usually focus on the ones of healing.  But here are many many miracles devoted to feeding!

We refer to Christmas as the Great Feast.  The writer Charles Dickens has the ghost of Christmas Present appear atop a mound of food!!!!!  That's my kind of ghost! Truly Christmas is a feast, for in that manger, a place where once animals fed, is the Bread of Life, the true feast for our hearts and our very being.

So if you're going to have snails for Christmas be sure to put the lid tightly on the pot... and wait until they are done to perfection,  and then share what you have!  Choice meat, rich food, choice wine, loaves, fishes...

But first we take this holy season to wait...  and prepare -- our foods, our hearts and our very being!

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