It is easy to become discouraged in this big world of problems when we are so small. Overwhelmed by all that is out of my control, I struggle with how I can make a difference for good.
Through a recent contemplation of the Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the Holy Spirit gave me an understanding on how my little place in this world fits into the big picture of God’s Providence.
More than simply reading a Gospel passage, Lectio Divina, or divine reading, is a way of exploring a passage at a personal level. To engage in Lectio Divina is simple. You spend time with a story or few verses from the Gospel by reading and re-reading it. In between readings, you sit in silence allowing your imagination free reign to explore what images present themselves and/or what thoughts come to mind. Because Scripture is the Living Word of God, through it the Holy Spirit is able to speak to us and bring clarity. Here is how he helped me:
Gospel of John 6:1-9:
After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee [of Tiberias]. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him (Philip), because he himself knew what he was going to do. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
After the second reading, it was at the end of this verse a spark lit my imagination:
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
I thought about this boy. ‘Who did he belong to?’ I wondered. An image formed of his mother. I see her early that morning kneading the dough and putting it in the oven to bake. I see her son wiping his eyes as he wakes and his mother wiping her hands on her apron to kiss her son on his head. I watch as she goes to the door and listens to her neighbors invite her to go with them to see the miracle working rabbi. She decides to stay home for there is so much to do; but she allows her son to go. She quickly packs food for him adding a few extra loaves of bread and fish for her neighbors. I see her waving goodbye and turning to her daily chores. How she must have marveled to hear how her little act of kindness was extended that day when she was simply doing good for a few.
Guidance From Above
This is what the Holy Spirit was inspiring my imagination to understand; every created act of good is known by God and is multiplied for the good of many. We do not imagine our little acts of goodness can help God save many souls, but they do.
Even if it was not as I imagine, many human actions did have to happen for the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to occur as it did. The wheat had to be planted and harvested, the fish had to be caught and prepared. The wheat had to be crushed into flour, formed into dough, kneaded, and baked into bread. The boy had to go carrying the food and the Apostles had to find him and bring him to Jesus. God always knows what he is going to do, and his creation is always invited to play a part.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1884) confirms this:
“God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence.”
What a consolation to know even in our little place in the world we are “ministers of divine providence” who “according to the capacity of our own nature” are invited to help God multiply our little acts for the good of the world.
If you are struggling with an issue and need clarity, or how to better prioritize Jesus in how you live and act, consider the practice of Lectio Divina and spend time with God in his Living Word. He will speak to you.
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, and motherhood, as a writer, Missionary of Hope, Prayer Intercessor, Speaker Team member, and Volunteer for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.