Sunday, August 03, 2008

Grace builds on nature

This weekends gospel (found here) was the feeding of the 5000 men, not counting women and children. One commentary I read suggested that Jesus needed the apostles to bring forth their five loaves and two fish in order to perform the miracle. I couldn't help but think of how God fed his people in the desert without the people putting forth anything. I thought that the lesson was a limitation on the power of God (he could only do it if he had the five loaves and two fish effectively treating him more like a god than God) and more that the ordinary way God works in this world is by building on the work that we have already done. If there wasn't the desire on our part and the willingness to do whatever it takes to make sure God's work done, then we have effectively turned God into a god again by making him an interference in this world.

What I'm trying to articulate is the long-held catholic belief that grace builds on nature, that God waits to see the choices we make and then adds to the work that we are doing. That's the lesson that I took from the gospel. Jesus first challenged the disciples to ask the right question. They wanted to ask Jesus to dismiss the crowd so that they could get food but, instead, he wanted them to get them food for themselves. Then, he took their meager effort (five loaves and two fish) and made it abundant.

1 comment:

Adoro te Devote said...

Hmm...you're right. I'd never looked at it that way, but it's true. God asks us to take a step, even a very small one, and then He answers with more abundance than we can possibly imagine.

Thanks. I needed that message.