THE SECRETS OF DIVINE MULTIPLICATION Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Breaking Bread and Keeping the Sabbath | Sabbath Truth

Once upon a time, a beggar comes to a certain monastery every week to beg for leftover food. Each time, the monk at the gate would joyfully welcome him and give him something to eat. Unknown to the beggar however, there were no leftovers; the monk simply shared his portion of food with him. 

One day, the beggar visited, not to beg but to give a basket of fresh tomatoes he received from a farmer to the monk at the gate for his kindness. Of course, the monk was not expecting the gift, but all the same, he received it with thanks. 

When the beggar left, the monk thought about one of the monks who fed only on vegetables and decided to give him the tomatoes. The veggie monk was incredibly happy for the gift and thanked the gate monk. But when the monk left, the veggie monk thought about the old priest in the monastery who loves tomatoes and instantly decided to give him the tomatoes.

The old priest was joyful that the veggie monk was kind enough to give out the tomatoes. But he thought about the gardener and decided to surprise him with the basket of tomatoes. Getting the fresh tomatoes, the gardener thought about the monk at that gate, “he is there all the time by himself; let me appreciate him with these”. When the monk at the gate received the tomatoes, he could not hold the tears of joy.

The Power of Good Thoughts

One important trend throughout the story is the progression of the good thought to share with others. The Second Book of Kings (2 Kings 4:42-44) tells us about a certain man from Baal-Shalishah who thought about visiting the man of God Elisha and comes with twenty barley loaves that was miraculously multiplied by the prayer of the prophet to feed a hundred people.

In the Gospel of John (6:1-15), we hear about Jesus feeding about five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish which was a little boy’s lunch that he thoughtfully gave out and was miraculously multiplied to feed the crowd.

From the two narratives, we understand that every good thought produces good results. The Book of Jeremiah (29:11) tells us that God has good thoughts for us, and St. Paul tells us to renew our minds to think what is good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2).

The Steps to Divine Multiplication

Miracles are not far from us; in fact, they could happen more if we discover the secrets. Recall that Jesus had asked Philip where they could buy enough food for the hungry crowd. However, this was a test because Jesus knew exactly what to do. God knows the end from the beginning, including our difficult situations and their solutions (Isaiah 46:10).

Philip indicated that they do not have sufficient funds to buy enough food. Andrew, who may have been privy to the conversation, remarked that a boy has five barley loaves and two fish though insufficient for the crowd. Jesus asked the people to recline, blessed the loaves and the fish, and asked the disciples to distribute to the crowd, and everyone had as much they wanted, and the leftover filled twelve wicker baskets.

Bring Something: The only time God made something out of nothing was in the narrative of creation in the Book of Genesis (1:3ff) with those “let there be” statements. The first human person came out of the already created reality; dust and the breathing of God.

The law of multiplication demands that there must be two or more variables on the foregrounds of the calculation. Notice that if you try to multiply any number with nothing, you will get nothing, for instance, 1000 x 0 = 0. 

To feed the multitude, Jesus demanded that the disciples give them something. Andrew seems to have a little idea of the divine multiplication secret when he presented the boy with the five barley loaves and two fish. However, he thought it was small compared to the crowd.

God can use small things to do great things. The crowd could eat something and have more than enough because someone brought something. Now the numbers five and two have greater significance to us, and they show what we need to bring to God. We see the two fish as representing MY and the five loaves representing FAITH. So, in your situation, the math goes this way THE SITUATION + MY FAITH X JESUS = ABUNDANCE.

Be Close Enough: The boy with the five loaves and two fish was not the only person in the crowd with lunch, but he was near enough to be discovered. You cannot expect divine multiplication when you are so far away from the Lord. 

James (4:8a) says, “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Likewise, the letter to the Hebrews encourages us to draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace in time of need (Hebrew 4:16).

Share: A careful reading of the event of the multiplication shows that Jesus simply prayed and asked the disciples to share the loaves and fish. The miracle of multiplication happened during the sharing of the lunch. You may have heard that there is joy in sharing, as our opening story indicated with the chain sharing of the basket of fresh tomatoes.

Moving Forward: Our Lord is still in the business of bringing multiplication to various aspects of our lives. But, unfortunately, we often miss the chance of experiencing divine multiplication because we stay very far from the Lord, come without our faith, or step down from sharing with others.

Do not be discouraged when the problems around you appear to be overwhelming. You don’t need to have so much to overcome; you only need to bring the little you have, and the Lord will bring out so much from so little. Remember: The situation +MY Faith X Jesus = Abundance!

God bless you!

Fr. Bonnie.    

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