So many of us use the internet to find information. Two students were having an argument over which search engine was the best. One of them said: “I really don’t like your choice because every time I use that one I get stuff that I don’t really need.” The other one replied: “That’s exactly why I use it – because sometimes the stuff I really need is not the stuff that I’m looking for.”
All the information that can come to us through the internet is very plentiful. It simply gives us a small glimpse of how God knows infinitely more, how mighty God is, and how bounteous God is with His blessings.
Bounty. That’s a word that you and I probably say three times a day with grace before meals, don’t we: “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.” Bounty means the extravagance of God with His blessings.
In today’s Gospel we see Jesus being bountiful with His blessings. Five thousand men are there at that mountain, and Jesus knows what He is going to do, but He tests His apostles. He asks, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” And Philip answers, “Lord, two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, says, “Jesus, there is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many?” Then Jesus says something very important: “Have the people recline.” He wants them to sit down on the grass. Then He takes the bread and the fish, blesses them and tells His apostles to distribute them. There is plenty for everybody – in fact there are twelve baskets of leftovers! We see the bounty of Jesus – how extravagant He is with His blessings!
But Jesus had the people sit down on the grass first. Why? For the very same reason that you and I are here today: to take the time to reflect on God’s blessings and to be grateful for them – and to get prepared for those still to come.
Notice that the people in the Gospel received something they hadn’t asked for. They came looking for more cures for the sick. But Jesus gave them something else – bread and fish multiplied so they could all be filled. All of this was in view of His gift to us of Himself in the Eucharist – His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – so that we can be nourished and strengthened in Him, with plenty for everyone.
There are some blessings in life that God wants to send us that we never asked for or even thought that we needed. But sometimes the stuff that we really need is not the stuff that we are looking for.
A lady in a small town was going to be evicted from her home. Some of the neighbors put some money together so she could pay the rent. One of them went to her home and knocked and knocked on her door but there was no answer.
Come to find out, she was inside that house all along, but she wouldn’t answer the door because she thought it was the landlord coming to evict her. Here the Lord had sent her someone to pay the rent but she was afraid to answer the door.
Sometimes the stuff that we really need is not the stuff that we are looking for. But the Lord knows what we need. As He has blessed us bountifully in the past, He is going to continue to bless us bountifully in the future as He knows best. In the Gospel, the five thousand received all that they wanted to eat, and there was still plenty left over to take home.
Take some time regularly to sit down and reflect on the Lord’s blessings to you – the ones you asked for and the ones that came to you as a complete surprise. As we sang in today’s Responsorial Psalm: “The hand of the Lord feeds us. He answers all our needs.”
As we pray our grace at our tables, let us not be in a hurry with our thanks: “Bless us, Lord …gifts … bounty … Amen. Pass the gravy please.”
Not like that, but with loving, grateful hearts, and expecting the Lord’s bountiful, often-surprising blessings that are still to come: “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”