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26th Sunday of ordinary time, Luke 2019

So there you are sitting on the grass with the five-thousand holding a half a loaf of bread in your hand. You are so full that you can’t eat another bite. You start thinking about what to do with this half a loaf. You decide that you will put it in your backpack and have it for the journey home. If you don’t eat it, you can always keep it as a memento. After all, the multiplication of the loaves is one of the most talked-about days in history. Think of what you could get on eBay for such an item. As you are contemplating all of this, one of the apostles plucks it out of your hand and says, “Sorry, no doggy bags. The Lord wants all of the crumbs collected.” This is the lesson of the multiplication of the loaves. It is not just about taking, it is about giving. God always gives in abundance so that we will have extra to give back.

Later Jesus told the parable of the rich man who ate lavishly and then died and was tortured in flames. It is a really sad ending to the story and it makes us think about what the rich man could have done in his life to prevent such a thing from happening. Is it because he didn’t re-mortgage his house, sell his yacht, sell his stock options, or take a week off from work to help the guy. No. Then why is he tormented in flames? All the poor man wanted was a few crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. That is it. If the rich man were able to come back and to give us advice, he would tell us that it doesn’t take much to get to heaven. It doesn’t take much to make a difference for someone, or to do something important. Make sure we make use of our scraps, of our extra.  So our faith question today is: what do we do with the scraps that fall from our table?

One late afternoon in October I decided to fish in Boston harbor. The fish are about to migrate south but before they go, they gorge themselves with food for the journey. If you are at the right place at the right time it can be very productive. I got out of the car, put on my waders, and walked to the water. I was standing and watching the water and there was a feeding frenzy right before my eyes. I immediately called my friend Jack, who lives just up the street. I knew he would appreciate getting this call. Within a few moments, we were fishing side-by-side, each of us fighting a fish. I had a nice fish on and I got a little too excited and snapped him off. Naturally, I lost my fly so I reached into my vest to get my fly box. I soon realized that I left all my flies at home. I stood there blankly looking out over the blue yonder. However, there is some good news. My friend who is fishing beside me happens to be a famous fly tier. He asked, “What’s the matter?” I said, “I just lost my last good fly.” Jack came over to me and pulled out his fly box. When he opened the box a fly fell out of the box and onto the ground — the box was jammed with flies. I picked it up off the ground and he said, “Just keep it.” I looked at the fly and you could tell it was used. The feathers were all mangled, dry seaweed was stuck on it, it looked like it had seen better days. It didn’t matter, I tied it on my leader with extra care so I do not lose this one. Needless to say, I caught a lot of fish. Now if you were to ask my fly tying friend the question, “What did you do today that would be considered great?” I am sure he would never admit that he gave me one of his beaten-up flies that fell out of his box. He would tell you that he wrote another chapter in his book, that he tied flies for a special gift box, or that he paid the rent. But if you rephrased the question, “What did you do with the crumbs that fell from your table?” he would probably say, “I gave my friend a cone of my crummy used flies and he had one of the best fishing days of his life.” It doesn’t take much to make a difference for someone.

When I am on vacation with Dad, we like to stop in for an ice cream after fishing all day. One time when we went to this joint and ordered small Sundays. We each got a Dixie cup with a thimble of ice cream and a squirt of whipped cream. The next year I was looking at the prices for the small sundae. It read $4.00. The large sundae, I noticed, cost $4.30. So I said to Dad, let’s get the large; it is only thirty cents more. So we did and the girl handed us two buckets filled with ice cream. It was ridiculous in size. What were they thinking? Did they want us to die from heart failure or diabetes? Of course, we couldn’t finish them. That is what God does with us. He always gives in abundance. What does abundance mean? Abundance means more than we need. Why would God give us more than we need? So that we will have extra to give to someone else. Remember it does not take much to make a difference in the world. What do you do with the crumbs that fall from your table?

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