Sometimes, a little reluctance can be a barrier to some really big blessings.
That’s seems to be the lesson (or, at least, one of the lessons) Jesus has in mind for his disciples in the gospel passage we heard at Mass today: Matthew’s version of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
I hadn’t noticed this detail before, but Jesus points out that the crowd is hungry because ‘they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.’
Presumably, the disciples, too, have been with him over that span. They’ve seen the mighty deeds Jesus has been performing – curing the sick, giving sight to the blind, enabling the lame to walk again.
Like the crowds, the disciples must have been amazed at the miracles taking place before their very eyes. Their hearts and their spirits must have been soaring – lifted up by the goodness of God, made manifest in the person of Jesus.
…they seem just a tad reluctant to acknowledge that they’d been squirreling away a few snacks for themselves while traipsing through Galilee.
Admittedly, it’s not much: Seven loaves and a few fish. Just enough to give you the idea that maybe the disciples saw this whole thing coming: Their guy Jesus…getting on a roll…all caught up in the moment…not giving a thought to practical matters like ‘where are we going to eat?’ So they did what any reasonable person would do – and tucked a few provisions inside their cloaks…just in case.
Which makes those disciples seem a lot like us, doesn’t it? Sure, we want to believe in Christ’s promises, in Christ’s power. But there’s a bit of reluctance in our hearts, too. A tendency to fret that we might just end up fending for ourselves…that God’s grace will somehow be insufficient for the challenges we face.
Perhaps, then, we should ask Jesus to bless our reluctance – this hardwiring in our hearts – during the holy season of Advent. Ask for the grace to see that we do have enough in Him…and in the process, we can begin to prepare the way for blessings beyond our boldest imaginings.