Left Overs – from scarcity to abundance
Born in 1921, my Mom came of age during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Her formative years were years of great scarcity in the land.
Food was hard to come by.
She learned at an early age not to waste it.
She carried her habit of stewarding food resources out of the era of the Depression into the years of relative abundance that followed.
As a child, as her child, I soon learned that the quickest way to annoy my Mom was to leave food on my plate.
My Mom didn’t have a problem with left-overs per say.
In fact, most of her lunches consisted of what was left over from dinner the night before.
But my Mom would not tolerate food wasting.
So, if you took something from the serving bowl and put it on your plate.
You ate it; no, ifs, ands or buts.
That’s how my Mom responded her whole life long to the scarcity she experienced in her early years.
Today’s Gospel lesson speaks of scarcity; specifically, a scarcity of food.
That day by the lake Jesus looked out with compassion over the crowd that had gathered around him in the wilderness to be healed by him.
And the healings happened.
Apparently, they happened all day long.
And at the end of that day of miraculous healings.
At the close of the day; that time when people gather at table to eat and be restored after the day’s labour.
It turns out there wasn’t much in the larder.
Only a few barley loaves and a couple of small fish.
Right there at the end of a perfect day when God had abundantly blessed the people with miraculous cures for all their diseases.
Scarcity reared its head.
Right there in the midst of God’s abundant mercy and grace there was human scarcity.
There were no convenience stores in the neighbourhood, where you could pick up a quick corn-dog.
There were no cafés where a simple meal could be had.
All there was, was scarcity, just a few loaves and a couple of fish for over 5,000 souls.
It turns out that Jesus, the one who cured their diseases, had the cure for their scarcity as well.
Human scarcity was not to have the last word at the end of this glorious day.
This day when the healing power of the Kingdom of Heaven was so powerfully present in the midst of the people who gathered around Jesus.
Jesus took the scarce offering of the people, he blessed it, he broke it and he gave it to his disciples
to pass out to the assembled people.
Everyone ate their fill.
And there were left-overs; to put it mildly.
Twelve full baskets of left-overs from a few loaves and a couple of fish.
I am sure that most of you have sat through multiple sermons based on these scriptures from Matthew’s Gospel.
Reflect for a minute on the impressions this Gospel lesson and those sermons, left with you.
Were you left in awe at the power Jesus had to create abundance from scarcity?
Did you feel sadness that such miraculous events don’t seem to be happening in your life?
Or were challenged by this story?
Were left asking Jesus, “What scarcity in my life would you like to take and miraculously convert into abundance for the good of others like you did for those folks by the lake, so long ago?”
What small offering of my time, talent or treasure would you like to take and multiply by the miraculous power of your Holy Spirit so that others can see that God the Father is and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him?
Let’s reflect on this idea for a few minutes; the idea that God wants to take our scarcity and turn it into abundance.
Maybe your scarcity is one of time.
We never seem to have enough time for things.
Maybe you only have a scant few minutes each week to spare for God: praying for others, praying for yourself, helping others, reaching out in love to the suffering ones in your community or apartment block.
In response to your scarcity of time our lesson for today says to us, “Take those few minutes. Bless them, dedicate them to the Father, and step out in faith and put them to use.”
And God will step in and take even the smallest love offering of your time and talent and multiply it to the changing of your life for the good of others.
Your life will grow in God’s hands from one of scarcity into the abundant life found only in Jesus, found only in laying down your life for the lives of others.
Or maybe time isn’t your problem, maybe you have more of that than you know what to do with.
Maybe your health is challenged and as a result, energy is the scarcity in your life that limits your ability
to serve God and to bless others.
Our Gospel lesson for today teaches us that if we offer God a portion, even a tiny portion of our precious
but scarce energy.
Then God will take that tiny spark of energy and make it bear great fruit in this world.
Maybe your scarcity issue is faith itself; the ability to believe that God is and that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him?
The answer to that form of scarcity is found in the parable of the mustard seed.
Jesus tells us that if we have only the smallest amount of faith; a tiny amount of faith that would fit inside a tiny mustard seed; we can still make trees fly and move mountains.
So, Jesus encourages us to let our faith loose; even the tiniest of mustard-seed faith, let it loose,
dedicate it to the Father and watch our God do miracles with it through us, for the good of others.
Our lesson for today is this.
Present God with your scarcity, lay it before him as a love offering and stand back and watch God bless it, multiply it and use it to turn the scarcity of this world into the eternal abundance of the Kingdom of Heaven.
To God be the glory, now and forever.