God multiplies humble gifts offered in love for others
The miracle of the multiplication of loaves is so significant that it is mentioned six times in the Gospels. In this extract from his homily on Mark 6:34-44, Msgr Philip Heng, S.J. reflects on how God will also multiply whatever each of us may bring Him for the benefit of the world.
A great crowd of people clamoured for Jesus, hungry for what He had to offer: the truth that He spoke with great wisdom, and the healing and restoration of their spiritual, physical and emotional health. They were suffering due to a lack of leadership. Corruption and negligence were rampant among their rulers.
Jesus the true shepherd
Jesus had come among them, revealing Himself as the true shepherd and leader, and modelling Himself after Moses and King David. He had taught them with such wisdom and light, that they were inspired to live life more fully. Determined to be with Him wherever He went, they had followed Him everywhere.
It then began to get late, and they were hungry. Seeing how they were pursuing Him with great enthusiasm, Jesus was filled with deep compassion for them as they were like sheep without a shepherd. He was moved to respond to their human need, a need that was beyond human capability to fulfil. Jesus’ response to the people’s hunger
First, Jesus pointed out to the disciples that the people were hungry. However, the disciples asked Him to send everyone home, rationalising that even 200 denarii, or 200 days’ wages, would never be able to feed all the 5,000 men, not including women and children. It would have been better if this large group of people were sent away to buy their own bread.
Instead, Jesus asked the disciples how much food they had. They replied that they only had five loaves and two fish, offered by a boy in the crowd. Jesus then told the disciples to get the people to sit, accepted the humble offering and blessed it.
Similarly, the little that we human beings have in our hearts, we are called to offer to God. Jesus takes our offering, accepts, blesses and uses it. He does this to all genuine offerings that are made willingly, unconditionally and with love. His divine compassion can bring about blessings in many lives, even if it is\ humanly impossible.
Called to sacrifice
We must always be conscious that we are called each day to use all the blessings and graces that God has given us in so many ways, for Him. Whether they are our talents, our financial resources, our time or our compassion – all these can be offered to God. He will accept, bless and “break” them. In “breaking” what we offer, God may challenge us with crosses that we have to bear.
When God calls us to serve somebody or to reach out to the needy, He expects us to be willing to follow Him and make the necessary sacrifices, to be broken for the greater good of God’s Kingdom and His people. Only when we surrender generously and are willing to pay the price of the cross, will God use our offering to bring about great benefits and blessings for others.
God’s multiplication of our gifts – for others
Notice that after accepting, blessing and breaking the bread and fish, Jesus shares the food with the entire crowd. He shows us that when we offer our gifts and labour to him, He can multiply our offering 30 times, 60 times, even 100 times, for the good of others. There will even be leftovers – 12 baskets full.
We must never underestimate what God can do through us. We need to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, urging us to serve God’s Kingdom. All the blessings that God has given us are never solely for ourselves and our families. We are each called to share His gifts to us with others.
Imagine owning a beautiful $100,000 diamond ring, only to keep it in a safe. Or buying a $2 million sports car, but leaving it in the garage. They are of no purpose. Unless it is used, the gift is meaningless.
Sharing our blessings
We can expect that God will use the blessings that are returned to Him. Some spiritual writers have said, “Whatever blessings that God has given us, if we do not offer them back to God to be used for the good of others and for His kingdom, we would have lost the blessing.” So if we continue to keep all these blessings and gifts from God to ourselves, one day we may cease to receive His blessings. It is in giving that we receive even more.
Let us be grateful to God, use His gifts, and make the needed sacrifices that are demanded of us, to bring about blessings for ourselves and for others.