*For class, we had to reflect on three bible passages and what is being taught about Divine Providence. Here is the reflection paper that I wrote.*
Luke 9:10-17; Luke 9:1-6; Matthew 6:25-34 – Divine Providence
How often do we hear of stories like that of where Jesus takes five loaves of bread and two fish to feed over five thousand people? At first glance of our memories, we would be inclined to say that these types of things never happen in our life. Maybe if we were in that situation we would be inclined, as the Apostles were, to send the people away to find food. Otherwise, we might find ourselves giving each person the smallest of crumb each, perhaps even auctioning it off to the highest bidder. Most people today may not even bother to think that God could provide for them, if only they would trust and pray. A thought like that, of trusting it to God, is scary and daunting; it is simply against what many would do. Worrying about what we would do with only so many fish and so much bread is our natural reaction, which makes us not so different from the Apostles who lived with Jesus.
So what is it then, that Jesus was asking them to do? He wanted them to trust in Divine Providence, to believe that what was provided for them would be enough. The part that I find important in my understanding of this story is actually not found in the Gospel of Luke, but rather in another gospel’s telling. Bread and fish was provided for by a lone boy who was with the crowds listening to what Jesus was telling them. God knew the people would be hungry, so He instilled in this young boy the kindness and courage to come to one of the Apostles to share with them the little that He had. Yet even at the generosity shown, the Apostles could still not yet believe that all the people would be fed with enough food to sustain them. In the end, I can only imagine how surprised the Apostles may have been at seeing the people all well-fed and with leftovers when they were done eating. All the same, I could also imagine how they may have realized the similar teaching Jesus has done about Divine Providence before then. Of course, that phrase was not being used at that time.
Going backwards in the time line, we see Him speaking again of trusting that Divine Providence will take care of them (the Apostles). They were being sent out with nothing to their name to proclaim God’s Kingdom and to drive out the demons, healing the sick. Again, when today do we see people sent out purposely leaving every behind the clothes on their back at that first glance? The Apostles were to go out with nothing hoping to be welcomed into people’s homes. They had to trust they would find those who would accept them in Jesus’ name, which in itself made the journey more difficult. At the same time, going out in the name of Jesus allowed Divine Providence to work in them.
At another point in time, we hear Jesus more straightforward speaking of that which we are calling Divine Providence. How often do you find yourselves worrying about this or that thing? Quite often we can find that the worry overcomes us so much that we do not trust and hold back from something because of that worry that infects us. Jesus must have seen the worry in the people whom he was preaching to; otherwise He would not have thought it needed to be spoken about. He teaches the people that if God takes care of clothing the field with grass, He too will take care of all our needs. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).
So now many think, how is any of this really relatable to me who lives in today’s society where everything is much different? I tend to disagree with how different today may be. While the specifics may be much different, the basic things still go on and the basic teaching Jesus did still applies to us today. Let us first go back to the feeding of the five thousand. Many people go on very little food to survive. Not only that, but many times each of us has found ourselves in a moment where we feel that we are lacking a specific means to be healthy or even to do something important to our life. For me, I have never been without food enough but other things to keep my life moving forward have been in shorter supply. All that is to be done is to trust. Where should that trust be place? In Divine Providence we should place that trust.
Now what about the relation to that of the Apostles going out to mission work with nothing but the clothes on their backs? When people go out here to proclaim and teach, they are loaded with all they can carry that they may need wherever they go. How many do you see with the bare minimum? The thing is, we only ever think of missionaries who come from places where they can be provided for going into a poorer place. Many people go with very little, including lack of support spiritually and such, into their own communities talking of the faith they love. Each day I guarantee you pass someone who appears to have all but really has nothing but the little candle in their heart to keep them going and teaching the message they are called to share.
Finally, we all know we worry about everything. We are a people who worry about the past, present and future all together. Jesus wants us to forget the worries of what was or what is to come and live in the now. We must trust that Divine Providence will take us to where we need to be. In the first two stories, we see what the third story tells us not to do. The apostles worry about where to get enough food to feed the people. The apostles, though not explicitly written in the bible, must have worried about taking nothing with if Jesus was telling them to go as they are with only what they were wearing. When there is worry, whether it is like that from Jesus’ time or the worry of today’s age, there is a lack of trust in Divine Providence.
From these stories, I hear Jesus telling me to stop worrying. In ceasing to worry I will be able to trust more fully in Divine Providence. It is not that I am not able to trust with the worry, but freeing myself from the worries little by little, I can allow Divine Providence to take over in my life. It is then that I can let where I feel called to be and what I feel called to do really show through for me to see more clearly and for others to understand where God wants me in this life.