By: Carla Mckenzie

The ‘feeding of the multitudes’ miracle (recorded in all four Gospels) where Jesus multiplies the loaves and fishes, presents us as Catholics with so many layers of meaning.

There is the layer, common to all of Jesus’ miracles, showing how different He is to all who’ve come before. He’s not just a great teacher, nor is He simply another prophet.  His signs and wonders all point to one reality; that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, that He is God with us.

Another layer of meaning, and one that I would like to reflect on here, is how this miracle tells us not only about who Jesus is, but also reveals something about the kingdom of God, and it’s seemingly upside down ‘economy’- that of love.

In this well-known miracle (John 6:1-14) we see Jesus, who when faced with a crowd of five thousand and mealtime fast approaching, doesn’t turn them away or ignore their human needs. In John’s version, Jesus takes what seems like a completely inadequate offering from a little boy: five loaves and two fishes, blesses it and multiplies it and in doing so creates an abundance where there was scarcity. In the end, they gathered twelve baskets of leftover bread. Not only did he meet the people’s needs, but he overwhelmed them!

Sometimes, perhaps like the disciple Philip in the story, we carefully count up and calculate what we have, emotionally and materially. We tally and feel we always come short. Maybe we think, “there is not even enough for me, how can there be enough to share? How can there be enough to offer to God or to others?” In our small-heartedness we are far from the faith that would offer ourselves and what we have up to God. We struggle to believe that God can take what little we have, given freely and in love, and multiply that scarcity to abundance beyond what we could ever imagine.  But it is precisely this smallness, this inadequacy of what I have to offer, that Jesus asks me to recognise and offer up anyway. He calls me to act like the little boy and share my loaves and fish with Him and with others.  When I do that, and when I am honest and open about my own weakness and poverty of spirit God can work great things. In words from the second letter to the Corinthians:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

Part of my struggle to share, emotionally and materially, is that I don’t fully grasp what I have come to think of as the ‘economy of love’ that exists in the kingdom of God. This mysterious kingdom that Jesus comes to show us functions with the currency of love. Unlike other currencies, the more you freely and faithfully give it away and the less you expect of it in return, the more it multiplies!

Jesus never imposes but rather offers us a choice: that we would trust him and choose to give our love freely, and that we would expect nothing but his love and grace in return. In doing so, we begin to participate more deeply in the kingdom of God and the more we offer up in love and in trust to God, the more God will multiply that love and trust and the more we will be transformed into the likeness of Christ.

About Author: Carla McKenzieProfile-Carla

I’m a final year medical student, living in George on the beautiful Garden Route. I love my work though it often take a lot out of me. To recuperate, I enjoy being in nature, reading and knitting, (I am currently knitting my first jersey!) I’m an adult convert to Catholicism and what I love most about the faith are the mystics and saints, Ignation spirituality and the potential for the church to be truly catholic, or universal – for all and for any.