Strength of Faith.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith.
Today we encounter another of Jesus’ most well-known and amazing miracles, the multiplication of loaves and fish. A few weeks ago, recall we encountered Jesus calming the sea. Powerful miracles!
On this occasion we see Jesus once again testing His disciple’s faith. He is taking a measure of their store of faith, how full was their faith tank? [Jesus] said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because He Himself knew what he was going to do.
He is testing our level of faith as well. How strong is our faith? Is this a true miracle or a nice story? Do we believe or not?
I remember a few Biblical Studies courses where the professors would posit that there was no direct miracle from heaven. They would say that people in those days never traveled without food. When they saw the strength of Jesus’ faith, they pulled out the food they had hidden away and shared it, thus creating a surplus of food, i.e., the miracle was the opening of people’s hearts. I was shocked. What, Jesus did nothing!?!
Perhaps such a thought gives some people a nice feeling. They can discount heavenly stuff and remain fixed on themselves. Jesus doesn’t do much, He just inspires good actions. How wonderful.
If, however, we confront the reality of the miracle Jesus performed in the multiplication of five loaves and two fish, we must recognize Who and What Jesus is. He is God Who works great things from the smallest of gifts for those who come to Him. He is the God of amazing works and of everlasting care.
Jesus’ care is directed at us and is a sign of heavenly power and favor for believers. His care is for the strengthening of our bodies and souls. He builds us up so, as St. Paul says, we may live in a manner worthy of the call we have received; to live in strength of faith.
God’s call is never to focus inward, but first upward to heaven, the source of all good, and then to take that experience outward to others.
In our heavenward focus, let us realize that the Holy Spirit in and among us continues to take the smallest of things in and about us and makes them massively wonderful. Let us consider then the small gifts we each have, our skills, knowledge, and abilities, and let us pray that God take the loaves we have to offer and through His miraculous power accomplish great things. In strength of faith trust and it will happen!