Yesterday, I lovingly mentioned how dessert was rationed. Today, I'll include the fact that dessert was only possible if we ate all of the food on our plates. I even think we weren't excused from the table unless we ate our meal. While I usually had no problem finishing dinner, I remember one dinner that included a vegetable medley of green beans, carrots, maybe corn, and lima beans. I ate vegetables, but I would not eat the lima beans. I tried everything I could to avoid the lima beans, but my parents wouldn't let me escape so easily. If today and yesterday have made you think my parents were harsh or rigorous, be assured they were not; I have wonderful parents.
What in the world does any of this have to do with the readings? Our gospel reading for today is the great multiplication of fish and loaves, the feeding of five thousand, from St. John's Gospel (6:1-15). Aside from the Resurrection, the multiplication of the fish and loaves is the only miracle/sign of Jesus found in all four gospels. Firstly, let's be clear: this is a miracle. Some have said that the people shared their food. While slightly impressive, sharing is not a miracle. This miracle reveals God's superabundant generosity in feeding over five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two fish, with 12 baskets full of leftovers. This miracle displays clear Eucharistic overtones, especially as Jesus takes bread, gives thanks, breaks the bread, and gives it to be distributed.
Much could be said about this entire miracle, but maybe it's worth reflecting on what Jesus says to His disciples after everyone has had their fill of food: “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So that nothing will be wasted, and this means much more than wasting food at dinner. God wastes nothing. He has a purpose for every day, every moment of our lives. Every person, every life has a purpose. Even in this time, God is using this challenging situation to draw us closer to Him. This day is not a waste; there is purpose, even if we don't understand it. The great Easter psalm is Psalm 118, in which we hear “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Remembering that God has a purpose for everything, absolutely everything, and wastes nothing, let us approach this day and every day with these words: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”