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Feeding of the 5,000 a lesson in trusting God


By Fr Patrick McCafferty

It was written: "There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?" (John 6:9).

We all know what happened next - the Lord's miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish among five thousand people, with an abundance left over (John 6:1-15). Let us reflect on the beautiful lesson and marvellous implications of this miracle for us today.

More than likely, the boy's mother had prepared this food for him that morning - five loaves and two fish, more than enough for a boy's lunch and his supper. He was given more than enough for himself.

However, before the need of the multitude, what he had been given was utterly inadequate and entirely useless. And then, "Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks and gave them out - giving out as much as was wanted" (John 6:11). Now there was more than enough, with twelve hampers of scraps left over.

The simple lesson of this miracle is Jesus demonstrating to us how God is enough.

This miracle is an invitation to radical and profound trust in God, who takes into His own hands our inadequacy and transforms it, multiplying our insufficiency and magnifying our littleness.

Jesus took the poor offering of the little boy into His own hands and gave thanks. Consider that - the Lord takes the child's useless gift and gives thanks for it to His Father. Thanksgiving and blessing are at the heart of everything Jesus does, and He invites us to participate with Him in that spirit of loving gratitude.

It is a very beautiful thing to give thanks. Even for the smallest kindness, it is wonderful to say thank you. Not to say thanks is the sign of a person who leaves much to be desired.

There is no joy like the joy of thankfulness. Thanksgiving is at the very heart of who we are called to be. It is the very foundation of our prayer and worship. Even in terrible adversity and affliction, thanksgiving lifts us up out of the depths.

Consider that great and good man, Job. When faced with suffering beyond measure, he blessed God and said about Him: "The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).

It is the Lord's holy ones, like Job, who are our example and inspiration. We take our cue from them and from the Psalmist who said: "I trusted, even when I said, 'I am sorely afflicted' and when I said in my alarm, 'Who can be trusted?'" (Ps 116:10-11).

"I trusted". The fundamental disposition of the Christian is this profound trust and a confidence in God that cannot be shaken.

"For though the mountains fall and the hills be removed", we know that the faithful love of the Lord is steadfast (Isaiah 54:10).

We stand upon that solid rock of the Lord's everlasting love and we say simply, "O Lord, I will trust in you. In you will I continually hope and I will praise you more and more" (Ps 74:1&14).

Let the storms of life hurl themselves against us with full might and fury.

God is sufficient for us.

His promise is enough for us.

We do not fear, though the earth should rock and the very foundations of our lives be shaken. God is our refuge and our strength. The Lord of hosts is with us and He is our strength (Ps 46:1-2).

We fear nothing and we lack nothing. The Lord is enough for us and our joy beyond all telling will be to thank, love and bless Him, for all Eternity.

"Forever will I sing of the goodness and mercies of the Lord" (Ps 89:1).

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