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THE DIVINE LAW OF INCREASE

Father Francis's picture
Corpus Christi

Lk. 9:11-17

With five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus and His disciples fed over 5000 people. After everyone's hunger had been satisfied, the leftovers filled 12 baskets. This means that what they had at the end was more than they had at the beginning. How can that remarkable increase be explained? In terms of logic and reason, it cannot. But there are two things for us to learn from this miracle.

The first is gratitude. To the disciples, that slim supply of food was no cause for rejoicing. Their focus was on how little they had. They never even thought of being grateful for it. Who could blame them? A mother with one slice of bread, to be divided among three hungry children, does not need a lecture on gratitude. She needs more bread!

But the ungrateful person can never have enough of anything. How many of us, although able to pay our bills and live reasonably well, are constantly aspiring to greater affluence instead of being grateful for what we have? We live in a comfortable house, but want a larger one. We have one car, but I want two. If that is my mind set, how much will it take to make me content with what I have? I must learn to be content with what I have. Jesus’ act of gratitude for the few fish and bread He had is telling us to be grateful for what we have.

There is a profound insight for us in what Jesus did. He held in His hands five barley loaves and two fish. It was a typical peasant's lunch. He focused His full attention on that, and took the time to be genuinely grateful for it. Under the spell of His gratitude, it somehow became enough, and more than enough. The person who can do that will always be rich. The person who can never do that is forever poor.

To the early Church this Gospel story clearly had Eucharistic significance. Jesus gave thanks for the bread, broke it, and gave it to the Apostles. They, in turn, gave it to the crowd. It is impossible to miss the parallel between that and what took place at the Last Supper. St. Paul reminds his readers in Corinth of that occasion, "The Lord Jesus, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and after He had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for You. Do this in remembrance of Me.' The Church has been doing that now for nearly 2,000 years. What started in that upper room has spanned the centuries and circulated the globe. That, too, is a miraculous increase. It began with just a few people, in one small room. Today it embraces the entire world.

The name of this sacred meal is, of course, the Eucharist. It is a Greek word that simply means thankfulness. The church's central act of worship is an expression of thankfulness for Our Lord's sacrifice of Himself on Calvary. This spirit of gratitude is an attitude that pervades all life. It is a mystical power that can take even a peasant's lunch and transform it into an abundant feast. A primary factor in the divine law of increase is gratitude. Without that, we will never have enough, but with it, we will always be rich.

The other lesson we can learn touches on the subject of generosity. That slim supply of food, just five loaves and two fish, seemed so small and insufficient. But Jesus was not only grateful for it, He was also generous with it. He shared it with the crowd and somehow, in that act of sharing, it became enough and more than enough. Life always seems to work that way. The person who has too little to share will probably never have enough to share. If we are not generous with little, what reason is there to believe that we would be generous with much?

Be generous and watch the divine law of increase at work. When it comes to the finest qualities of life, sharing will never diminish our supply. The more patience we practice, the more patient we become. The more love we share, the more our own lives will be filled with love. What we have at the end will always be more than we had at the beginning.

Lord Jesus, teach us to follow Your example in our lives, to be genuinely grateful for what we have and gladly generous with them, as You were with the five barley loaves and two fish.

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