What does this miracle teach us?

What does this miracle teach us?

It’s significant, I think, that the miracle we hear about in today’s Gospel is the only miracle (apart from the Resurrection!) which is related by all four evangelists. This is clearly an important event in the Lord’s ministry, and it contains lessons for us.

Some Christians cite this gospel to support the so-called ‘prosperity gospel.’ This is a doctrine, with roots in the Old Testament, which suggests that material prosperity can be a measure of God’s blessing. More importantly, if a person is faithful to Christ, and lives according to Gospel values, then God will bless them with material wealth. The feeding of the 5,000, it is argued, demonstrates this. Our Lord responds to the people’s needs, and then some. The twelve baskets of left over foods is testament to God’s super-abundance.

The experience of the saints, however, tell us something different. Miracles which impacted St Jean-Marie Vianney and St John Bosco come to mind, but instead I’ll cite a much more local example. This is one of many similar stories I’ve heard from many people.

A couple I know in Hamilton have many children of their own, and they’ve fostered a great many more – some temporarily, others permanently. For many years the household has included ten children or more. A few years ago, the mother of all these children resolved it was time for a holiday. People were tired, tempers were short, and relationships were frayed. As you might imagine, the household is seldom flush with cash, but that didn’t concern her. A holiday was needed, and she prayed that God would provide.

So the holiday was booked a month in advance, on the hope and prayer that the funds would accumulate in time. As time passed though, the money was not found to pay for the holiday accommodation. The family forged ahead anyway, putting their faith in Providence. On the very morning of the holiday, as the family drove off the farm, they stopped at the mailbox. There they found a cheque whose amount coincided precisely with the sum needed to pay for their holiday accommodation.

This, it seems to me, is precisely how God works. We can ask for material blessings just as we ask for spiritual graces, but where God will give a thousand times the spiritual favours we request, God’s material generosity is more circumspect. God gives material blessings as needed, and no more. The reason is self-evident. We humans are susceptible to material attachments which are deadly to the life of faith. Material abundance typically does us more harm than good, and God will never harm us.

Today’s Collect acknowledges this very point:

O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.

Besides, it’s  notable that our Lord instructs the disciples to collect the left-overs, “so that nothing gets wasted.” Jesus has no intention of permitting the crowds to be gluttonous, taking more than needed. This is hardly a ringing endorsement of the prosperity gospel!

So what lessons can we learn from this miracle?

Firstly: God is sensitive to our material and spiritual needs. We can trust in Him whenever our resources fall short. We should use whatever resources we do have — even if they are plainly inadequate. God will supply what is lacking.

Secondly, God will recruit us to do his work, if we are willing. Our Lord could have worked this miracle without any input from others, but he deliberately collaborated with the disciples, despite their poverty of resources. This is true for us also. We think we don’t have the words or the eloquence to spiritually nourish others. Or we don’t have the goodness or authority to speak about God. After all, who are we?

The answer is one we easily forget. We are children of God, baptised into the Body of Christ, and nourished by His Word and his Sacred Body and Blood. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, ready to infuse our words and actions with God’s grace. 

Our own apostolates, unlike our Lord’s, are rarely spectacular. We serve God in simple and mundane ways — in our kindness towards strangers; friendliness towards acquaintances; and our dedication to family and friends. Let’s not neglect the material: our punctuality; our temperance and self-denial; our care for books and computers and tools. But by our habitual, day-to-day struggle to do the small things well, we grow in virtue. And by doing that, we draw closer to the Lord.

So let’s pray today that we make use of the resources the Lord gives us, even if they seem inadequate, so that we can attend to the spiritual and material needs of those people whom God puts on our path.

  • Simon Hogan

    Well that is great story once again! Another day was Cousins Day and today is Granparents day!
    No jumps racing today at Ballarat too heavy! We had some hail today at Warrnambool it was a little white! Anyone going to listen to Fr. Dowling tonight he celebrate 57 years of being a priest tomorrow!
    Now this is photo of one of Fr. Corrigan churches that he is in care of! Was there any snow there today!Keep Well and Keep Warm

  • Simon Hogan

    This is photo of one of Fr. Corrigan church’s that he takes of! I wonder if there was any snow there today! Oh Has anyone been to Harrow pub someone rang up on the radio talking about it!

  • Simon Hogan
  • Simon Hogan

    Tomorrow at Moonee Valley I like Race2no2 Race4no8 Race7no3 Race8no1 Race9no1 and 5. In Adelaide I like Race8no3. All good each way! Have a good weekend!

  • My comments may go to the spam bin but what bin will you go to if you do not have the Catholic faith? Will you distribute your dead bread Protestant wafer today and call it “the body of Christ”?

    • Ha ha. I give up Lourdesman. I’ve blocked IPs and marked multiple comments as spam, but still you show up. Credit where it’s due. You keep getting through so I’ll stop trying to block you.

      Nonetheless, I maintain that you are remarkably insensitive, rude, and most critically, imprudent. I have friends who sincerely doubt my holy orders and refuse to attend Novus Ordo Masses. But they still have the humility to recognise that they cannot be sure, so they accord me the respect that a priest of Jesus Christ has always commanded.

      To quote St Catherine of Siena quoting our Lord himself:

      I do not wish the respect which priests should be given to be in any way diminished; for the reverence and respect which is shown them is not referred to them but to Me, by virtue of the Blood which I have given to them to administer. Were it not for this, you should render them the same reverence as lay people, and no more… You must not offend them; by offending them you offend Me and not them. Therefore I forbid it and I have laid it down that you shall not touch my Christs.

    • MuMu

      Poisonously penned like a usual schismatic. I commend you, Fr Corrigan, for your tolerance and charity. I have read a definition of schism is the rupture of charity and the previous comment proves it.

  • Still no answer to the question. Are you validly ordained or not?

  • Greg Kingman

    Lourdesman, your impertinence strikes me as characteristically that of a Catholica troll. Are you or are you not?

  • There is only one priesthood given to us men by which we can save our souls. Please answer the question. Is Country Priest from the same mould as Padre Pio, John Vianney, Pius x and any number of validly ordained holy priests? If any of you commenters needed brain surgery urgently you would make much more careful enquiry about your surgeon than you make about your priest.

    • Actually, I’ve changed back to “defenders of the priest”. After all, there is only one priest who will decide on this in the long run,

  • Gregory Kingman

    Certainly not a pastorally charitable ‘defender of the priest’ judging by your comments. Besides, you too have not answered my question. Are you a gated member of the cyber heretical cesspit, Catholica, pretending to identify with the Traditional priesthood in order to belittle and score a point?

    • No idea what “Catholica” is. You hardly expect me to be charitable to false priesthoods? Was Our Lord politically correct or charitable when criticising the brood of vipers or whitewashed sepulchres. Please start by telling us why we needed seven new sacraments.

    • Stephen K

      Dear Greg, whoever Lourdesman is, I doubt very much he has any connection whatsoever with Catholica. Indeed, anyone with any reasonable understanding of the non-traditional, liberal, progressive, or modernist Christianity that that forum might be thought to express, could not imagine or conclude for a moment it would ever consider Lourdesman’s impugning of Fr John’s priesthood a meaningful or valid thing to say or do. The comparison with Pius X and Padre Pio and the reference to “seven new sacraments” should give you a better clue. I can’t tell how much experience you have had of the wide diversity of “traditional” Catholics or those who think the Catholic Church ceased to exist at some point between 1955 and 1971, only to be replaced by a facsimile controlled by anti-Christs. You may yourself have never met anyone who tried or conspired to kill one Pope, or kidnap/rescue another one, and so on.

      Priests are whatever and however the Church makes them to be. The essential theology of all priests, whatever the prayers of their ordination, is that they are called and commissioned to the service of the rites and administering of sacraments of the Church – in commemoration and imitation of Christ the Priest on Calvary and in His Life. Lourdesman clearly has a view that limits the power of the Holy Spirit to the man-made words determined at any given time. If he were disposed or able to think about it, he would see it’s something of a self-consuming reduction and will eventually create problems for him and the character of his religion. However, don’t confuse his presumptions about past and contemporary ordinal validity with a challenge or questioning by many modern Catholics and others about the future role, character and purpose of priests in a re-theologised church.

  • Greg Kingman

    Lourdesman, you are making serious allegations about Fr John’s ordination and priesthood, and Bishop Paul Bird’s competency in appointing him to a parish. Apart from not knowing who you are, Fr John doesn’t have to answer to you or any other priest about his ordination.

  • The Vatican Commune has its seven man-made sacraments. The Roman Catholic Church has seven divine uncreated sacraments.

    • Stephen K

      Are you able, Lourdesman, to explain how any sacrament, defined as a “visible sign” of God’s grace, can be “uncreated”? [I’ll leave aside, for the present, the other issues of whether or in what sense a sacrament may be thought of as “divine” as opposed to, or in conjunction with, it being “man-made”, and whether or not there seven or less or more].

  • Well Stephen, maybe you should get yourself a Roman Catholic catechism. Throw away your heretic Vaticanist versions.

  • Simon Hogan

    Well tomorrow it is big day at Ballarat four jumps racing plus the Grand National Steeplechase plus the World Class jumps jockey and plus FREE ENTRY plus more
    I like Sea King in the big race!
    In race one I like Strike the Stars
    In race two I like About the Journey.
    Race3No1 Another Legend.
    Race8no10 All of them Each Way! Race4 is the Grand National time to start is 2.29pm! Happy Punting all roads head to Ballarat! I be staying home and watching!

  • Simon Hogan
  • Pier M

    God bless you Father John. I came across your blog when looking up Sister Mary Rosina Gladman. I was very touched by many of your articles. May Our Lady, St Joseph, St Therese and St Jose Maria always have you in their prayers.
    God Bless
    Pier M

  • Simon Hogan

    Well tomorrow is the South Australian Grand National Hurdle and Steeple at Morptellive
    The Hurdle in Race2No2
    Race4 Is the steeple I like No5
    Race9No5and 7
    At Caulfield
    Race6No1 and 4
    Race9No1and12. All of these are all good each way bets! Is everyone enjoying free to air racing! It will get better in a next couple of weeks! Channel 68 or 78! Country racing is at Murtoa and Bendigo on Sunday! Have a good weekend and happy punting from Simon the Pieman

  • Simon Hogan

    Well it’s Frinday so it’s time for more racing tips for the weekend! At Moonee Valley Race1No8
    Race3No1and 7
    Race4No1 and 5
    Race6No4 and11.
    Race7No4and 9
    Race8No8 and 12
    Race9No1,4 and 7!
    Now at Morphettvillve in Adelaide
    Race2No2 Race4No1 Race6No3 and 4.Race7No1 Race8No4and 5.
    All of them are good each way! I see Nacorte races on Sunday not too far for you Fr.C orrigan! Keep Well from Simon the Pieman.

  • Simon Hogan

    Well I back again with more tips firstly for Morptevllive Australia Vs Ireland jumps jockey series will be on!
    Race2No8 Race4No1 Race6No4 Race7No6 Race8No10 and 13.
    At Caulfield Race1No1 Race2No9
    Race3No1and 6
    Race eight is the Group one my numbers are 7,15 and 17
    Race9 No5,9 and 15.
    Good luck I know we may not have spring weather at the moment but spring horses running tomorrow! Big crowds and big fields. All my tips are Each Way!

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