Scarcity and the Good News of abundant sharing

The story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is found in all four Gospels, but I find John’s account (6: 1-15) very appealing.

Five thousand men – “not counting women and children” – have listened to Jesus in a deserted place. They’re hungry and Jesus wants to feed them.

Asking Philip where to buy food for them, Philip’s response is that it would take more than 200 days’ wages to feed them.

Notice how Philip thinks about the cost. It’s too much, he seems to say. We can’t do it. We don’t have enough cash.

Yet Andrew does see a little boy with five barley loaves – the loaves of the poor – and two fish. “But what good are these for so many?” Andrew notes.  Not enough!

But with Jesus even the little shared by a little boy is enough – and all are fed, so abundantly that there are twelve baskets left over.

The apostles think in terms of money and scarcity, but the little boy offers all that he has.

The little people of this world have much to offer – and so often they do share, as I witness here in Honduras. The despised are the ones who give us the example of what we are called to do – share the little we have.

Dorothy Day stated this well:

People say, “What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?” They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time. We can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes.

God, using the little we have, can do great things if we stop thinking from the perspective of scarcity and think of the abundant and gracious love of God.

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2 responses to “Scarcity and the Good News of abundant sharing

  1. I heard someone reflect on this scripture that Jesus didn’t do “magic” in multiplying the loaves and fishes but that the miracle was that everyone shared the little they had (instead of hoarding) and amazingly everyone had enough. This makes total sense to me.

    • There are several commentators who say that the example of the boy and Jesus’ invitation were the incentives for people for hare what they had brought. Megan McKenna is one of those who have suggested this, especially since people would not have gone long distances without taking along a little food. But then, those who followed Jesus were probably the poor, marginalized outcasts who had no job or other source of sustenance and may have been without any food. Whether it was the miracle of sharing or the miracle of multiplication or a combination of both doesn’t really matter to me – the miracle is that all were fed: EVERYONE.

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