God of Abundance

Friday of the Second Week of Easter
April 21, 2023

Today’s Readings:


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us two very human, accessible stories.

The first, from Acts, is about the Pharisee named Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a big deal. An esteemed authority in the powerful Sanhedrin, he was the son and grandson of highly respected Jewish teachers. He was wise, prudent, honest and practical. Gamaliel was the “real deal” himself, and he recognized it in others.

Gamaliel and Nicodemus Mourn the Death of Stephen – Carlo Saracini -1615 AD

In today’s reading, Gamaliel intervenes in the Sanhedrin’s relentless pursuit of the early disciples. He basically tells his colleagues, “Hey, wait a minute. If these guys are “the real deal”, there is nothing we can do to undermine them. If they are not, they will undermine themselves. So just cool it for a while.”

While there is scant verifiable evidence to the fact, tradition holds that Gamaliel converted to Christianity. He is venerated as a saint in both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox traditions.

Our Gospel tells us the familiar yet still amazing account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

It’s a wonderful story. I mean just put yourself in this noisy, curious, hungry crowd of 5000 people! Picture Jesus going up the mountainside so they could – maybe – hear what he might say.

Imagine that you’re Philip when Jesus turns to him and asks,
“Where will we get enough food for this crowd?”

Do you see the unspoken answers written all over Philip’s face,
“How should I know? Why are you asking ME!!!!”

The passage says that Jesus was testing Philip, but it was more like a tease when I picture it. Can’t you see the mischievous little smile on Jesus’s face? Jesus knew what he was going to do about the crowd’s hunger. He wanted to be sure his disciples paid strict attention to what was about to happen. So he got them involved with his testing questions.

God wants us to pay attention, too, to what happens when we bring our hungers before God’s merciful goodness. Like the few fish and loaves, God takes the smallest parts of us and builds them up with the gift of grace. God finds the willing fragments of faith, hope and love in us and multiplies them with God’s own power.

With this miracle, Jesus shows his followers and all of us, that there is a sacred reality and Truth beyond the thin scarcities we at first perceive. Deep faith allows us to plumb that reality and to live in its expansive promise. Walter Brueggemann puts it this way:

The feeding of the multitudes … is an example of the new world coming into being through God. When the disciples, charged with feeding the hungry crowd, found a child with five loaves and two fishes, Jesus took, blessed ,broke and gave the bread. These are the four decisive verbs of our sacramental existence. Jesus conducted a Eucharist, a gratitude. He demonstrated that the world is filled with abundance and freighted with generosity. If bread is broken and shared, there is enough for all. Jesus is engaged in the sacramental, subversive reordering of public reality.

Walter Brueggemann, The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity

Gamaliel opened his heart to this Truth,
as did the first disciples.
It’s our turn now.

(Insert your name), where will we get the food
to feed these hungers in our world?

Poetry: Miracles – Walt Whitman

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Music: God of Abundance – Kat Mills

2 thoughts on “God of Abundance

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