Have you ever heard someone utter the words, "God will provide"? It's a comforting sentiment, to be sure; the thought that God is watching out for us and will give us what we need. If God provides for the birds after all, how much more he will care for his people! (Mt 6:26) This is a loving, charitable God.
This image of God who provides, as in today's Gospel reading of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, stands in stark contrast to the same God in today's first reading. Hearing of Adam and Eve's banishment from the Garden of Eden, we witness God seemingly devoid of pity, who punishes after but one transgression. Indeed, this seems more reminiscent of Babrius, the ancient Greek writer of fables who declared that we are ants to the gods, who levy swift judgment to humans as humans do to pestering ants.
There is a key in today's readings that may help us reconcile this seeming contradiction of God who punishes yet also provides, and it lies not in God's behavior but in humanity's. In Adam and Eve's case, their punishment was the result of their unhealthy attachment to the fruit of the forbidden tree. They could not detach themselves from this desire, which held them captive. By contrast, the crowd on whom Jesus takes pity has demonstrated a rightly ordered life; one that seeks union with God above all and, therefore, is detached from desires of worldly things. It is such detachment and a right orientation toward God that, in fact, bear fruit of a sort Adam and Eve did not yet realize.
What are we unable to detach ourself from in our life? What desires hold us captive, keeping yus from kinship with Jesus? Let us pray for one another, that God may continue to reveal Himself to us and that we may have the courage and trust to let go of our attachments and run to Him. God will know - and God will provide.
By Scott McClure