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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: August 3, 2015
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at the Carmel of St. Teresa of Jesus Monastery in Little Rock in a Mass with Diocese of Little Rock seminarians on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015.
In today's Gospel we have the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. A week ago Sunday we had John's version, which I spoke about at the vocations celebration in Hot Springs and at the charismatic convention. Today, we have Matthew's version of the same miracle. Since this is a vocations event as well, I would like to share that same message with you today.
When you were a baby, you were totally dependent and yet your needs were met. The reason is divine providence. God gave us parents, and especially a mother, to provide for us. And they provided for us not merely out of duty or out of pity because we were so helpless, but rather out of love. We learned to trust our mother to provide milk and warmth and relief from a dirty diaper.
We experienced divine providence without even thinking about it; it's the world we knew ... and naturally they begin to take it for granted. Part of the process of maturing involves separation from direct parental protection, which if handled poorly, can lead us to forget about God too.
God will see to it that our needs will be provided for. And not just material needs, our human needs as well.
Have you noticed that rebelling against parents and rebelling against God often go hand in hand? When people mature, forgetful of divine providence, they can easily begin to imagine that everything is now on them; that their successes and failures as the world judges such things are all their own doing, that we have to provide for ourselves at all times. They end up forgetting about our ongoing dependence on God and others for meaning and purpose and all the other most important things in life.
In today's Gospel, Jesus feeds 5,000 with just five loaves and two fish, and when they had eaten, 12 wicker baskets of fragments were left over. God not only provided, he provided far more than was needed. In John's version we find that he did so by using the contribution of the owner of those loaves and fishes, a young boy who with seeming recklessness gave up the certainty of being able to provide a good dinner for himself, in order to do what he could to help meet the needs of others. He trusted in Jesus, that if he did what Jesus asked, God would see to it that his needs would be provided for.
This year is the Year of Consecrated Life, which has personal meaning for me because when I was a child, our parochial school was staffed by the Sisters of Divine Providence of San Antonio. They were wonderful women and through them God provided me with an excellent education rooted in our Catholic faith.
As you may remember, in this year's CASA recording I focused on the need to promote vocations to religious life and in particular female religious vocations, because compared to men, female vocations are really lagging behind. And from our Carmelite sisters who pray for you every day, we see just how important female vocations are in the life of the Church. Sisters, I want you to know how much we love you and are grateful to you for your gift of self to the Lord, to the Church and to us! I pray for you every day and I am grateful that the Lord is now blessing you with vocations once again.
I think that all of us who are gathered with us today will agree that one of the things that underlies our success in attracting seminarians is that young men are starting to believe again, not just believing the words of the creed intellectually, but rather belief on a much more personal level, belief in divine providence, that if I step out in faith, God will use my five loaves andtwo fishes to feed thousands.
That if I, with seeming recklessness, give up things that the world says are necessary for happiness in order to live for something bigger than myself, that if we do what Jesus asks, God will see to it that our needs will be provided for. And not just material needs, our human needs as well.
You are discovering what I have experienced throughout the 35 years of my priesthood so far, that God not only provides, he provides far, far more than is needed — 12 wicker baskets worth extra. So I ask you today, do you trust in God enough to hand over your five loaves and your two fishes? Give him everything? Are you all in?