A Mater Sammich

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

  • Deuteronomy 15:7-11

When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into their house to get what is offered to you as a pledge. Stay outside and let the neighbor to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you. If the neighbor is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession. Return their cloak by sunset so that your neighbor may sleep in it. Then they will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the Lord your God.
Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.

  • Deuteronomy 24:10-15

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

  • Matthew 19:16-22

To explain the title, I melded Southern English, in that Tomato is often pronounced “May-ter” but often spelled mater on the sign next to the roadside truck stand.  And Yinzer, in the Pittsburgh area, sandwich is pronounced “Sammich.”  It is something similar in the South.  Thus “Mater Sammich” is a tomato sandwich.

Today’s remembrance is of my father, in one of the few times that we ever just hung out and talked.  He and my mother grew up during the depression.  They did not talk about it much.  My mother, none at all.  My Dad only this once.

We were at my mother’s parents’ home.  One night in the heat of the summer, I was wanting something good to eat.  I had played hard all day that day and the sun was setting.  MawMaw always had a variety of things to choose from.  She had leftovers that filled her refrigerator and she heated everything in the oven or on the stove top, long before microwaves.  Three or four meats, countless vegetables, and a few desserts, but somehow, the kitchen was closed that night.  I cannot remember the reason for it.

I was sitting on the top step of the front porch, pining over my hungry tummy, when my Dad showed up with three ingredients for our meal together, just the two of us, sitting on the front porch, watching fireflies flying around and listening to the crickets, just after sunset.  The three ingredients were bread, mayonnaise, and tomatoes.  Okay, he had a saltshaker, too.

He then told me how this meal was fit for a king when there were hard times.  In the Depression, this was a grand feast.  Since they had a garden, they never lacked food, but there was never a lot of food, and they had to make it last.  Meats were a rare treat in those days, and the cousins and neighbors would share.  There was no way to preserve everything, so if someone slaughtered a calf, they shared with neighbors and then the neighbors would share with them.  Nothing went to waste.

Then he said, “And any two out of the three ingredients on this plate make a meal, too.”

I quickly thought that without the mayonnaise, you still had a tomato sandwich, just a little drier.  I had seen my Dad spread mayonnaise onto his tomatoes.  But I asked, “If you just had bread and mayonnaise, that doesn’t make a sandwich!”

My Dad said, “Sure it does!  It’s a mayonnaise sandwich.  And when you are hungry enough, it is delicious.”

So, when you cannot have a steak dinner every night of the week, or you cannot have any meat in a meal once a week, remember that a mayonnaise sandwich is delicious, and a mater sammich is a meal fit for a king.

I have loved them ever since that night on MawMaw’s front porch, eating our kingly meal, just the two of us.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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