The stories of Jesus feeding multitudes in the gospels follow a pattern:
- There is a great need, and Jesus wants to meet it.
- The disciples’ provisions are paltry, not nearly enough to meet the need.
- Jesus asks for whatever the disciples have, and the disciples offer it.
- Jesus receives their offering, thanks God for it, breaks it, and gives it back to the disciples.
- The disciples distribute their clearly-not-enough-but-recently-blessed provisions.
- Everyone eats and is satisfied (!!).
- There are plenty of leftovers (always more than the original provisions).
When we offer what we have to Jesus, and distribute liberally and generously what Jesus gives back to us, there is always more than enough to meet the need. Always an abundance. There is something about the economics of the kingdom in these stories.
I’m reminded of St. Basil the Great’s brief theology of economics:
When wealth is scattered in the manner in which our Lord directed, it naturally returns, but when it is gathered, it naturally disperses. If you try to keep it, you will not have it; if you scatter it, you will not lose it.
The urge to hoard comes from the pit of hell. Accumulating wealth disconnects us from the abundance of God’s economy. But giving what we have, entrusting it to Jesus, always results in an abundance for all who would participate in the economy of God’s kingdom.