Living in this modern age with our refrigerators, hothouses ready to deliver fresh vegetables year-round, grocery stores filled with all manner of delights, it is hard to remember that winter used to be a time of need. Nowadays it seems the winter season is filled with bustling from one feast to another. Christmas parties follow quickly upon the heels of Thanksgiving, followed by the New Year’s celebrations. In this context the first reading from Isaiah almost seems like too much: "A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines." Hold on! I’m trying to watch my weight!
And yet, there is that line tucked in between the feasts. "[H]e will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations."
Although I’m not wealthy by American standards, there has never been a point in my life when I did not know where to find my next meal. Growing up there was always enough food in the house. After moving out however, I didn’t always make the best financial choices. There came a time when I found myself living alone, with nothing more than two eggs, a frozen pie crust, and half a box of cereal in my larder. With a week to go until my next paycheck, I pondered my choices. Swallowing my pride, I called my parents and asked if I could come across town and join them for dinner. My mother was delighted! The circumstances that brought me to their house (and asking for a care package to take home) were never discussed. The evening was filled with laughter and sharing. The veil that I had drawn between myself and my parents in an effort to "grow up and make it on my own" was pulled away.
As shown in the Gospel reading, God wants to feed us, in whatever way we are hungry. Jesus cares for all of those who need healing. Then, out of pity for the crowd, he feeds them although the physical resources available are meager.
In this season of feasting, no matter what our circumstances, may we find the veil that covers us destroyed. May we reflect the risen presence of Christ to those we sit with at table. And may we have the courage and blessing to accept God’s grace that is offered to us in abundance.
Talib Huff is a volunteer at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights.