On my first morning in Ecuador, we had the great grace of the Mass, and the Gospel that day was the story of the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, in the Gospel of St. John. The Lord went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and a large number of people followed Him to see some more signs.
Seeing all the people, the Lord tested Philip and asked him how they would feed all these 5,000 people. He already knew what He was going to do. Philip has no idea, and then Andrew points out what the Lord had noticed, that there is a boy nearby who has 5 loaves and two cooked, salted fish.
See, the Lord saw the boy right away, and He knew. He knew His Father was going to do something great. He knew that if the boy would give Him all he had, God would do a great miracle. For he himself knew what he would do. (Jn 6:6)
The boy said yes. He gave all he had to Jesus. And the Lord fed 5,000 people with the boy’s 5 loaves and two fishes. A miracle, one of the greatest and well-known miracles ever, one that the whole world has heard about time and time again for 2000 years.
Because the boy said yes. He gave Jesus everything he had.
But there’s more. This needs some explanation.
A quick story to help …
Back in June, I received a request from the Franciscan Missions to donate money. It said that for a 5-digit sum of money, about the price of a new SUV, a church could be built. I thought, what if I didn’t have a church? How can they go without a church? How could I go without a church? I thought, I have that money. It was pretty much all the money I had, but I said yes. As it turned out, exactly half of that money was from my mother before she died, and last month in El Chontal, Ecuador, in a tiny village in the middle of the mountain jungle, I had the great privilege of a lifetime of being at the first Mass and blessing of this church built with funds from my mother and me. With the bishop and the local priest and the Franciscan mission team and all the beautiful local people of San Miguel Arcangel church, miracles occurred. The local church is now visible and has a beautiful building as a home for the real presence of Christ. It is something that I cannot put into words. I never expected so much – it is a miracle.
But as if that weren’t enough, there was more. The people, the local churches, the country and landscape and culture, the fruits, the mountains, the experience of being in Ecuador and meeting the Franciscan mission team, the Galapagos Islands. I just spent most of 2 weeks thanking God and saying over and over, “WOW. My God, Wow.” Over and over…
When everyone had eaten their fill of the loaves and fishes, the Lord told the disciples to gather up all the leftover fragments. Twelve wicker baskets were filled with leftovers, and not just filled, but the Greek word St. John uses in the text means “crammed filled”. See, the miracle is more than just feeding the 5,000. The Lord knew the boy’s heart, He trusted that he would say yes, and from the beginning He knew He was going to bless Him for his generosity. For he himself knew what he would do.
I imagine the look on the boy’s face, I can hear the words out of his mouth when the Lord Himself gives him one by one the 12 wicker baskets, crammed filled with bread.
“WOW. My God, Wow.” Over and over …
“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6:38)
If the Lord is calling for your generosity, know that He is going to work a miracle with it. And if He asks for something that you think you need, that you think you can’t part with, remember the boy.
Remember the 12 wicker baskets, crammed filled.