The Loaves and the Fishes: Divine Providence!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus ministers to the needs of those around Him, even though He was seeking some time alone to mourn the death of his beloved, John the Baptist. He first addresses their spiritual and emotional hungers. They needed food for their souls. Jesus tends to these needs. Yet, to show that God does not deal only in the spiritual world but also in the everyday, material world, Jesus feeds their bodies. He not only satisfies their hunger; He feeds them abundantly. They eat to their hearts’ content and there is still more food left over than there was before Jesus fed the multitude.
As many times as I hear the story of the loaves and the fishes, I never get tired of it. The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is found in all four Gospels, although the context and emphasis varies. Told no less than six times in the four Gospels, the event of the loaves and fishes is the only miracle so emphasized. This is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, that is told in all four Gospels, a fact that speaks of its importance to the early Church. This miracle gives witness to the power of God and his great compassion for His people. It is also a direct demonstration of the divinity of Jesus and a precursor to the Eucharistic celebration that will occur on Good Thursday.
But there is another element to this story that should not go unnoticed. That is the role of the disciples and, by inference, our role. The people were hungry, and the disciples went to Jesus and said we must send them away to the villages to get some food. Jesus challenged the disciples, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” (Matt 14:16) The disciples clearly did not think that they had enough food for all the 5,000 plus people that were there, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” (Matt 14:17) But they went ahead and did as Jesus had requested. Jesus took the food and blessed it, gave it to the disciples and they distributed it and they had food for all with 12 wicker baskets left over. That is how Divine Providence works. You do the absolute best you can with the skills and resources that the good Lord has given you and you turn the rest over to Him!
The question I would ask today is, are we trusting in Jesus, that even if we do not seem to have what we need to succeed, that he will supply and that there will be plenty left over? Are we taking the miracles that Jesus is giving us and sharing that bounty with others? Are we trusting that if we go into a deserted place, a place of prayer, of solitude and silence, that He is going to take care of us? We need to know that if we trust in Jesus and give our lives to Jesus, He will take care of us and that there will be more left over then what we first started out with! The lesson for every Christian is that, no matter how impossible his or her assignment may seem, with Divine help it can be done because “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
In this time of Covid-19, may you be ever more conscious of the great love which God has for you and may you continue to trust the Lord Jesus by coming to Him and relying on His Divine Providence.
God bless you folks, Father Gerard.