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Hope You Like Leftovers

Updated on April 21, 2021

“Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.” ~ Thomas Fuller

“You should be a pescatarian; it’s a thing you know.”

These were the words of my sister this past weekend as we both shared our frustrations with regard to dieting, particularly around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. For those of you who don’t know ~ such as yours truly prior to this weekend ~ a pescatarian is a person who subsists on a diet comprised strictly of fish. This got me to doing some research, and on the heels of this research I can say with a fairly certain degree of confidence and more than a tinge of sadness that there exists no such thing as a Häagen-Dazatarian. Perhaps I could blaze the path down this ‘rocky road?’

But yes, I am without question passionate about seafood; there’s no denying it. As a young boy I would anxiously await Lent and the seemingly endless ocean of flounder that swam in with it on Ash Wednesday, the fried school lingering until the Easter Triduum. And don’t even get me started on the role that fried fish sticks played in my Lenten Journey.

When I lived in New York City, many was the night I would hop aboard the Q Train to Chinatown, where upon arriving at my favorite restaurant, no menu was rendered or asked for. The waitress simply brought whatever fresh fish was being offered that day, head and tail included of course.

At high-end steakhouses, I’ve been known to ask the waiter “So how’s the rainbow trout?”

Ever heard of scungilli? For me it’s a basic food group.

At Japanese restaurants, nothing is off-limits. Sea urchin, octopus, spanish mackerel, squid....bring it. And then bring some more.

I’m as happy as a clam when eating clams... raw, steamed or casino. I’m never crabby when eating crabs... Dungeness, blue claw or Alaskan King.

The restaurant that I frequent most often near my workplace has a live eel tank.

When I pull a muscle, you shouldn’t assume it happened at Gold’s Gym. The “mussels” I pull are extracted from a shell and are usually of the New Zealand or “green lip” variety.

I believe that the cause for canonization should be opened for every member of the crew of “The World’s Most Dangerous Catch.”

I have been (rightfully) banned from more than one “All You Can Eat” Sushi Bar.

When I hear of someone with a shellfish allergy, I quietly and immediately thank God that a similar cross was not placed upon my crustacean-loving shoulders.

Even in today’s Gospel (Matthew 15:29-37), the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes, I can’t help but wonder if there would’ve only been 6 baskets of fish left over as opposed to the 7 that remained after Jesus fed the 5,000+ had I been on hand that fateful day.

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat,” Jesus tells his disciples, perhaps foreshadowing the three days that are to come in which the faithful will instead be without him.

The rest of the story, as we know, is history. All were fed, all were satisfied, and there were in fact even leftovers. But with regard to the latter, perhaps the loaves and fish that remained in the seven baskets weren’t really leftovers, but instead a sign of God’s largesse? After all, we see God’s abundant love everywhere, nowhere more so than through the coming of his Son Jesus. Our Lord’s pursuit of his children is so extreme that he became a single cell zygote within the immaculate womb of Mary so as to reveal himself to us in a greater and more profound way. God, who is immeasurably and infinitely vast, became small. For us.

Father John Riccardo is fond of likening Jesus’ love for us, as shown through his brutal death on the cross, to that of rinsing out a wash cloth. The next time you rinse out a wash cloth, consider this metaphor as you wring the final drops of water from the damp cloth. Jesus poured out every single drop of his blood, his sweat, his agony. He gave until there was no more to give. Only then did he cry out “It is finished” and breathe his last.

In today’s 1st Reading (Isaiah 25:6-10), the Advent Prophet delivers a message of hope with a Book of Revelation (21:4) vibe when he declares boldly that “the Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken.” The passage concludes with the following proclamation:

“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!" For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.”

“Religion is just a form of control” says the modern day atheist, oblivious to his addiction to consumerism, pornography, video games, vaping and late night television just to name but a few of his Masters. “Only weak people believe in God,” he proclaims, this despite the fact that he is tenuously tethered to his aforementioned addictions, wherein a greater pursuit of said-addictions is typically wedded to an ever-diminishing return; such is the insidious way of vice.

The promises of Jesus on the other hand are rooted in eternity: eternal joy, eternal fulfillment, eternal ecstasy. But until sin is vanquished, nothing can be made whole. Enter Emanuel.

Look for the Lord this Advent Season. Saint John Damascene, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, would often recite this very simple but profound prayer:

Lord do not let my heart lean either to the right or to the left, but let your good Spirit guide me along the straight path.”

Our Lord Jesus has truly come to save his beloved people. Blessed are those prepared to meet him.

(For more on this topic, please revisit my Essay from last year:


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