First Point.—The knowledge of God is the first foundation of our confidence in Him. See, by the Gospel of to-day, how all that concerns us is of greatest concern to Jesus, in the past, the present, and the future. For the past: Jesus reminds His disciples that during three days the people followed Him. He therefore knows how long we have served Him, and He has counted all the moments. Our divine Saviour adds: "Some of them have come from afar." Not only does He count the time, but He knows all that it has cost us to come to Him—the temptations we have resisted, the obstacles we have overcome, and the sacrifices we have imposed on ourselves. There is not a step taken for Him that He has not seen and which He does not remember. Ah, how sweet it is to serve a Master who knows so well all that we have done for Him!
For the present: Jesus warns His disciples that the people are in great need and that He has not wherewith to nourish them. Whatsoever may be the situation in which we are, God sees us and knows all our needs; He knows our misery and our poverty, our losses and our misfortunes, our afflictions and our pains, our temptations and our weakness, our spiritual and temporal wants. Men do not know them, and often they wish neither to know them nor to believe them. Why then do you place your confidence in men, and not in God alone? Why do you not seek your consolation in this sweet thought, that God sees everything and knows everything?
For the future, Jesus reminds the apostles of the danger of sending the people away without having given them some nourishment. Ordinarily it is the future which is the cause of our greatest solicitude; it is the future which the demon employs frequently to disturb and discourage us; but why are we disturbed by a future of which we are ignorant? God only knows it; let us leave it to His care. Not only does He see the future, but He sees it in relation to us; He sees what must befall us, whether it be happy or unfortunate, and He knows the means to put away from us whatever may be injurious and to procure for us whatever may be advantageous. Let us therefore place in Him our entire confidence. Then shall we give Him the most glorious worship that is possible for us, and we shall find, for ourselves, the most precious blessing, viz., peace of heart.
Second Point.-The goodness of God is the second foundation of our confidence. Jesus, having called His disciples, said to them: - "I have compassion on the people." The knowledge which God has of our needs is not a sterile knowledge. Alas', men, for the most part, when they see us in affliction remain insensible. The fortunate ones of the world hearing of the sufferings of the poor, are but little moved and neglect to bring them assistance. But it is not so with our God. The sight of our miseries excites in Him the sentiments of tenderest compassion: "I have compassion on the multitude because they continue with Me now three days and have not what to eat; and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way." What treasures of tenderness are enclosed in the heart of Jesus, since these words escaped from His lips. O my amiable Saviour, whose heart is sensible to all miseries, shall Thou behold mine and not be moved?
The knowledge which God has of our needs stirs His Sacred Heart with compassion; it does more, it prompts Him to assist us. Jesus, having represented to His apostles that the people who had followed Him for three days had nothing to eat added "I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way." Listen to these words you who follow Christ and who are faithfully attached to Him! Yes, in His service you shall suffer. He will test your fervor and your constancy to a certain point, but He knows how far and how long your strength will last, and He will not allow you to be tried beyond that. Everything seems to be wanting; your condition has become desperate; relatives, friends, protectors, all have abandoned you ; but your God will never abandon you, He will assist you. Where shall this assistance come from ? This is the objection which the apostles raise. "Whence then should we have so many loaves in the desert, as to fill so great a multitude?" 'Whence shall come the assistance? You do not know, nor can you foresee; but should it not suffice to know that God wishes we should have it, and that He does not wish we should be abandoned in our need? Rest assured in the bosom of His infinite goodness, persevere in the sentiments of the fullest confidence, and you shall not be deceived.
Third Point.—The power of God is the third foundation of our confidence in Him. "And taking the seven loaves which His apostles gave Him, He blessed them and distributed them to the people. All did eat and were filled, and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand men, without counting the women and children." What a prodigy ! What abundance ! And yet this prodigy of power God renews every day in favor of His children.
In the general order of nature every year the earth is covered by new riches to provide for all our needs, the plants grow again, the animals are multiplied, the grains and fruits are reproduced. This prodigy as admirable as it is constant; a prodigy which should give us an exalted idea of the power of God and fill our hearts with tenderest gratitude. But, ungrateful and unfaithful as we are, we think only of enjoying the gifts of God, without ever thinking of the omnipotent hand which has lavished them.
This prodigy is renewed every day in the special order of His providence. God has secret resources for those who put their trust in Him. The miracles which He employs are not always shining and sensible miracles, but they are the miracles of a Providence as attentive and as admirable as they are hidden. We find some just and charitable souls who aid the poor, assist the unfortunate, contribute to the decorations of the altars, assist in all good works, and who, however, are never in need themselves. The more they give, the more they have to give, without knowing whence or how the abundance comes. Everything prospers with them, and goods seem to multiply in their hands. Whatever they give is as a seed which produces a hundredfold. It is the consequence of their confidence in Him whose providence governs everything and provides everything.
This prodigy of power is renewed every day in the order of grace. The miracle of the multiplication of loaves is the figure of the Eucharistic bread. In what profusion the Lord has provided for the nourishment of our souls? Not only does He give us His grace, but He gives us Himself, who is the Author of all grace. If we are in need, if we are weak and languishing, the fault is our own. Do we need the bread of the strong, or is the bread of the strong wanting in strength? It is we who need it; we are wanting to ourselves, allowing ourselves to die of hunger in the midst of abundance, either because we refuse to eat of this bread which is offered us, or because we do not partake of it with the necessary dispositions.
O my God, Thou beholdest all my temporal and spiritual needs. Thy goodness is moved by them, and Thou wishest to help me; Thy power is infinite, and nothing can resist Thee. In whom shall I hope if I do not hope in Thee? Ah, Lord, the more pressing my needs shall be, the more my soul shall languish and the greater shall be my confidence in Thee.
Source: Short Instructions on the Feasts of the Year, Imprimatur 1897