The traditional interpretation of this story is it illustrates the amazing power of the Christ to multiply a very small amount of food so it was ample to feed thousands, and there was even a large amount of food left over after the thousands of people had eaten their fill.
This is certainly an important message to us.
The painting was meant to resemble a stained-glass window. The hands of many colors are supposed to represent peoples of multiple races, nationalities, and backgrounds.
The hands reaching down from the top seem to be the hands of Jesus, but they might also be your and my hands, feeding the many -- doing our part however small it might be.
Another message of this story, one that is often overlooked, was the boy’s willingness to make his very small contribution.
It appears to me that he was not at all reticent about offering his food even though it was such a small amount. A very common thing for him to have said was, "What I have to offer won't make any difference." The text gives the impression that such a thought never entered his mind.
All of us have had the experience of feeling as if our contribution or input to a worthy cause was so small and insignificant, it wouldn't make any difference. Thoughts like that can often cause us not to make our contribution. The disciple, Andrew, expressed this thought when he said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these among so many?”
I believe this story is encouraging us to trust that even the smallest contribution can make a significant difference. There is no contribution that is too small when it comes to doing good.
I have a personal story that relates. As a young boy, I had a savings account my parents had started for me when I was a baby. It had about $100 in it. With my parents' permission I gave all my money to a building fund. Compared to the wealthy donors, my ninety-some dollars was certainly not a significant amount. However, word got out about what I, a small child, had done, and it inspired others to give. The result was the building renovations were fully funded in a short time.
Our contribution can take many forms: a monetary donation, personal involvement, expression of knowledge and input of ideas – or even campaigning and voting for a candidate. As someone said, it is not how much or little we can give, but Jesus's blessing upon it that makes our contribution effective.
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Copyright, James Bennett 2021