Every time Jesus announces one of these pop quizzes in my life, I fail it. Sometimes I catch myself in the act of failing it, and I wrestle to get my heart into a proper disposition of surrender and trust and peace but always, always—it feels inevitable—I freak out.
God I need You to do this now. NOW. Lord, how long? I can’t handle it, I can’t manage it, I can’t endure it. . . .
And Jesus asks me the same rhetorical question that He asks Saint Philip, pointing out the blatantly obvious situation like the one which I AM CURRENTLY FREAKING OUT ABOUT LORD and asking Him, almost casually, “What can we do about it, you and I together?”
“It” being this massive thing that there is no earthly solution for. It’s almost as if the Lord, pointing out to the amassed crowd of hungry followers, is gently taking hold of each of His Apostles’ chins, patiently directing their attention to what He is about to do.
Because that need you have? That impossible, insanely complicated situation? He already knows what He is going to do about it.
And He wants us to watch Him. To lay our little contributions, our small and insufficient solutions at His feet with deep, expectant joy, and to watch Him provide.
So He asks, and He waits. And then Saint Andrew, the first pope’s brother, a guy with no need for the spotlight and a humble and complete trust in Jesus of his own, he kinda clears his throat and points out a kid in the crowd with a lunch bag full of bread and fish, maybe feeling a little sheepish but overcome with the confident love that He can if He wills it.
And He does will it.
And so the combination of that little mustard seed of Saint Andrew’s faith, Saint Philip’s desperate assessment of the crisis at hand, and the childish generosity of the least of these becomes one of the most powerful parables in the Gospel. Jesus takes our next to nothing, and He works with it. He multiplies. He provides.
I see a progression of the spiritual life in these three characters: Saint Philip’s anxiety, Saint Andrew’s tentative and expectant faith, and the little boy’s trustful act of total surrender. And I hope to emulate the little boy with every situation that arises.
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Lord, help me to skip straight to the finish of the next test, throwing my loaves and fish into Your lap without hesitation, smiling while I wait for You to move. Because You always do.
Jenny Uebbing is a freelance writer and editor for Catholic News Agency. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Dave and their small army of toddlers. You can find out more about her faith, thoughts on bioethics, and potty training failures here.