With Twelve Baskets Left Over

“One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, remarked to Him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish, but what good is that for so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Get the people to recline.’ Even though the men numbered about five thousand, there was plenty of grass for them to find a place on the ground. Jesus then took the loaves of bread, gave thanks, and passed them around to those reclining there; He did the same with the dried fish, as much as they wanted. When they had had enough, He told his disciples, ‘Gather up the crusts that are left over so that nothing will go to waste.’ At this, they gathered twelve baskets full of pieces, left over by those who had been fed with the five barley loaves.”  Jn 6: 8-13

Jesus, in this miracle of the fish and loaves, is ultimately pointing to Himself being offered in the Eucharist as real food to feed the starving multitudes.  There is only one Jesus and yet hour after hour, day after day, until the end of time, He is being blessed, broken and eaten. Hungry souls are consuming Him and in turn bringing Jesus to others in dire need of nourishment.

In this miracle, I see myself as I struggle with God’s call to transform the world with His love. I am Andrew saying to our Lord’s request, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and a couple of fish, but what good is that for so many?” I wonder how the little I  possess can possibly help turn back the evil that pervades the world?  What can I do – I am weak and frail, full of doubts and fears?

Yet, Jesus in this passage, pretty much ignores Andrew’s doubts. Instead He tells Andrew what he must do, as if to say, “Don’t question, just do.” Sometimes, I think, that is exactly how the Lord deals with all of my questions and doubts. I don’t often hear an explanation of just how God is going to use the little I may have. Rather, He seems to just pass over my questions as He proceeds to then tell me what the next step of obedience is.

I contrast Andrew’s question with the faith and the trust of the small boy who offers his five loaves and two dried fish.  Like the widow’s mite, I am certain that he, too, gave out of his need. Neither did he apparently worry about the size of his contribution in the face of the multitude. He simply trusted and gave all he possessed, in perfect, childlike faith. Is Jesus less faithful to me then? Will He look at my offerings with scorn? Never! How He must delight in my small offering when I give it to Him in this same trusting manner!

Whatever I have then, Lord, I willingly offer to You, trusting not in my abilities but in Yours to use what I have given to You.  When I see how small and inadequate my heart is to love those around me, may I  remember that in Your possession, my heart can nourish a multitude with twelve baskets left over.

Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.  St. Francis of Assisi