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The Miracle of Loaves and Fishes

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“You feed them.” (Luke 9:13) This is the opening remonstration Jesus gives to his disciples on the occasion of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fishes. With these words Jesus begins a lesson on what it really means to truly be his disciple. There is more to this event than meets the eye. There is more to it than the miracle that Jesus performs. Indeed, the miracle is simply a vehicle that Jesus uses to get us to understand not only his own role in human history, but our role as his followers as well.

When the disciples suggest to Jesus late in the afternoon that he tell the huge crowds to go and find their own food and lodging in local villages, Jesus stuns them by telling them to feed the crowds themselves. They are incredulous at first. They complain that they only have five loaves and two fishes, in other words, barely enough to feed themselves. Jesus is challenging them to think beyond themselves, to realize that they have more to give than they think. He challenges us this way every day too. He is encouraging them (and us) to trust, to give of themselves completely, that God will take care of the rest. Believe!

Jesus teaches us by showing us as well. If we have faith in God, he takes what we have to give, no matter how small, and he multiplies it. He teaches us that if we begin to live our lives for others, in his name, even in our poverty; if we share even our little bit of faith, our little bit of love, freely, without expecting anything in return, God will miraculously multiply our little bit. It is not what we have, but how we share it that counts. It is not our effort that multiply our simple gifts, but the attitude of faith behind our efforts. God multiplies, not us. It is when we share all things in God’s name, according to his will, that all things expand beyond their perceived limitations.

Have we not all experienced this miracle of multiplication in our lives. Have we been asked to do something that we felt was beyond our abilities, but necessity required us to do it? Did we not start out in trepidation, asking God to help and be with us, only to find at the end of the day, that we had not only accomplished what we were asked, but more? Have we not felt the multiplication of time on more than one occasion, when, though it appeared that there would not be enough time to accomplish a task, it had to be done for the good of others? And when we put ourselves into the task whole-heartedly, aware of our responsibilities toward others, did we not find ourselves not only finishing the task within the constraints of the time limitations, but with time to spare? When seemingly impossible things like that happen, is it not cause for giving thanks to God? That is the miracle of the loaves and fishes too. When we give of ourselves in God’s name, he will multiply all that we do. Thanks be to God!

Lord, teach us to be generous to one another. Give us the knowledge and the grace to put all of our trust in you. Help us to realize that no matter how little we perceive we have to give, if we give it in you name, you will multiply it. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.