Giving What You Receive

August 7, 2023
Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time (Years B&C)
Readings for Today

Saint Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs—Optional Memorial

Saint Cajetan, Priest—Optional Memorial


Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Matthew 14:19–20

An important aspect of this miracle that is easy to miss is that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes through His disciples’ instrumentality. He did this by inviting them to assist in the distribution of the loaves and in the gathering of the fragments left over. This reveals that God often uses us as mediators of His superabundant graces given to others. Though God could pour forth His mercy directly, most often He does so through others.

As you ponder this miracle, try to see yourself as one of the disciples who was invited to distribute the bread to the people. If you were there and were hungry and then were given bread, you would be tempted to eat the bread yourself before giving any away. But Jesus gave the bread to His hungry disciples with the instruction to first give it to others.

Sometimes, when God calls us to give His mercy to others, we become selfish. It’s easy to think that we must first take care of ourselves and our own needs. We erroneously believe that we can only offer mercy to others after our needs are met. Imagine, for example, if upon receiving the bread from Jesus the disciples would have decided that they should eat of it first. Then, if there was anything extra, they could give it to others. Had they done this, the superabundance of the multiplication of the loaves would not have happened. In the end, the disciples themselves received a superabundance of food—precisely because they first gave away what they had received.

Spiritually speaking, the same is true with us. When we receive spiritual nourishment from our Lord, our first thought must be to give it away. We must first see all that we receive from God as an opportunity to bestow those blessings upon others. This is the nature of grace. For example, if we are given a sense of peace or joy within our hearts, we must realize that this peace or joy we receive is a gift that must be immediately offered to others. If we are given a spiritual insight into the Scriptures, this is given to us first and foremost to share with others. Every gift we receive from God must be understood as a gift given to us so that we can immediately share it with others. The good news is that when we seek to give away that which we have received, more is given to us and, in the end, we will be far richer.

Reflect, today, upon the action of the disciples receiving this food from our Lord and immediately giving it away. See yourself in this miracle, and see the bread as a symbol of every grace you receive from God. What have you received that God wants you to distribute to others? Are there graces you have received that you selfishly try to hold onto? The nature of grace is that it is given to give it to others. Seek to do this with every spiritual gift you receive, and you will find that the graces multiply to the point that you receive more than you could ever imagine.

Most generous Lord, You pour forth Your grace and mercy in superabundance. As I receive all that You bestow, please fill my heart with generosity so that I will never hesitate to offer Your mercy to others. Please use me as Your instrument, dear Lord, so that, through me, You may abundantly feed others. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saints of the Day –

Saint Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs

Saint Cajetan, Priest

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes By Jacopo Tintoretto, via Wikimedia Commons