Most of the Gospel this week, John 6:1-21, recounts the famous story of the loaves and the fishes — and of Jesus feeding what other gospels describe as 5,000 followers. As the story goes, the five barley loaves and two fish were provided by a young-ish boy.
As it happens, the only time I ever had a big role in a musical was in a 2nd Grade performance of a quite short play that told the story not of Jesus doing the feeding, but of two boys who went fishing, one of whom became the boy who provided the fish (and the loaves, baked by his mother) to Jesus. (“Yeah, yeah, I caught a fish,” I sang. “Yeah, yeah, I caught another. Yeah, yeah, I caught a fish, but I couldn’t catch his mother….”)
I bring this up now because that little play provided a different perspective for the famous miracle. It wasn’t the perspective of Jesus, to see what he was trying to accomplish, or of the 5,000, who benefited from the multiplication of the loaves and fishes into a feast; it wasn’t even the perspective of the disciples who helped spread the food around and became co-participants, in a sense, in the miracle. Instead, the play humanized the boy(s) who were moved, from a very child-like willingness to share, to be the “first cause” of what became the most famous of all Christ’s miraculous works.
And here was the lesson (or at least one of the lessons) of that sweet little play for children: What we give might not seem like much when compared with the task at hand — but if we give what little we do have, from a free and willing heart, Christ can turn it into something plenteous and wonderful. Shifting the focus — away (slightly) from Jesus’ mighty work of doing such a good thing for the 5,000, and instead to the perspective of the providers of what Jesus used to do His wondrous work — allows us to understand how we can be not just recipients of Christ’s grace, but participants who help Christ (or even provide the means for Christ) to shower that grace upon His flock of believers.
Never doubt the possibility that even a small act of our own kindness can have beautiful repercussions down the line — not because we did the kindness, but if, and because, we hand that kindness up to Christ, for Him to transform that small kindness into something miraculously grace-filled and salvific.