Last April Fools’ Day I had a blast making a “Kitty Litter Cake” to spring on the kids I work with at Bremwood, a residential facility for at-risk youth here in Waverly, the town where I currently live.
Have you ever made a Kitty Litter Cake? It is YUMMY. And it is CLEVER. The finished product looks just like a pan of kitty’s “finished product,” if you know what I mean.
To make this fine delicacy, you combine white and chocolate cake crumbs with vanilla wafer crumbs (some of which you tint a light green). You then place this most-unappetizing-looking mixture in a kitty litter pan (that is sparkly clean, do not despair). Next, heat small Tootsie Rolls so they are easily pliable and you place and combine in any number of curved “log” formations on top, as well as burrowed, into “litter.” For a finishing touch, drape one of those Tootsies over the pan's edge.
Serve by the scoop-full to astonished (and at least a little nauseated) friends, family and others. For added effect, take a generous scoop-full and gulp it down, and with a smile, before sharing.
Ha ha ha ha April Fool!
It was soo fun on April 1st, looking at the faces of the kids as I proudly showed them what I’d brought for their special treat. Even when they knew it was just cake - super tasty cake at that - some of the kids were still a little grossed out. Some of the kids thought it was nothing but hilarious and cool.
I found every expression enjoyably engaging because, after all, it was April Fool’s Day! And pulling the wool over unsuspecting others was the name of the fun and funny game.
I think of this prank as I hear in Jesus 6:51-59 Jesus talk — and over and over again to make it ever grosser — about the how’s and why’s one receives eternal life. One must eat His body and drink His blood. “Make no mistake,” Jesus endlessly iterates, “My status as ‘living bread that’s come from heaven and for you’ is effective only as you eat and drink my very real presence.”
“Whaaaat?” exclaim Jesus’ main opponents in John’s gospel, the Jews, in horror. “How can we eat of your flesh and drink of your blood?” They’re taking what he says totally literally. They assume he’s commanding them and all His followers to become cannibals.
At this point we can’t help but think the Jews’ faces are as, or even more, contorted than Bremwood kids confronted by a heaping scoop of purported kitty litter.
And we Christians, along with Jesus, are invited to laugh, enjoying the unfolding of this ‘prank.’ We know better, of course!
In an earlier blog, “Amelia Bedelia Goes to the Well” (3-21-14), I talked about how one of the Gospel of John’s through-strategies is to always show the people who encounter Jesus taking his symbolism and figures of speech literally. In this way, we’re invited to laugh at the foolish reactions of those who don’t get it as well as laugh with them — and at ourselves — because we’ve been there. We all stumble in our ability to understand what Jesus is talking about, but that’s okay. He loves us still and encourages us to love ourselves even when haplessly befuddled. That’s the way, the comic way, of the journey.
Here the befuddlement is cranked up several notches. What Jesus seems to be doing is pretty cruel, making the Jews look especially stupid.
One of the things that’s important to remember, especially about John’s gospel, is that it is written at a time, and in a place (Galilee) where both the Church and Synagogue are battling for adherents from the same pool. The anti-Semitism is especially cranked up, but (as we put on comic lenses and understand the context) we can understand it’s because the gospel is serving, among other things, as an infomercial for Christianity, and the Jews are, hence, Brand X. It’s perhaps not unlike the strategy of those (imho) hilarious “Direct TV” ads with Rob Lowe and Super Creepy Rob Lowe (who has cable).
I also like to think Jesus is egging us on, even as we know he’s not promoting cannibalism. Sure, we can brush off his insistence about real body and blood because we know that’s what’s mystically produced at Holy Communion when plain ordinary bread and wine are blessed and shared. We can tell ourselves that’s really what he’s talking about. ‘Nuff said.
However, if we let ourselves really take in (pun intended) his emphasis that eternal life comes through ingesting his full corporeal being, we can let ourselves start accepting that maybe it’s more than a once-monthly, or even once-daily, sacrament he’s talking about. Maybe it’s the fact that His Spirit, although invisible, is a very real thing, or Being, and to really get what He’s all about and what He’s offering, you have to let that Spirit fill you like a jug of water and/or an 18-course meal. Fill your mind, your heart, your words, your hands and feet.
That means you’re filled with very real love, peace, light, generosity….
And there’s absolutely no place for anger, fear, personal agenda, desire for retribution or living in the past, expectations for the future…. All that stuff we probably regularly gnaw on, even as we may know we probably shouldn’t.
It’s our “comfort food. And Jesus says it has to go. All of it.
Now watch our faces as they start to contort….
But, I think, Jesus wants us to remember this is kitty litter cake! Ha Ha ha! As unpleasant as it all may seem, once we get the joke and take a taste, we’ll realize we’ve come upon something quite tasty.
And another big fat scoopful is always being offered. It’s right before us.