One of the most difficult aspects of studying Scripture is to develop the knack of hearing the text as the author originally wrote it, not as it has been falsely interpreted through the centuries.

An example is Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 14:13-21). We insert something into the text that St. Matthew doesn't include and end up talking about Jesus' miraculous feeding of the crowd, instead of the disciples' miraculous feeding of the crowd.

God's care of His people is a constant biblical theme. The authors of both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures frequently zero in on that aspect of His personality.

God's love

No writer ever expressed that concept better than St. Paul, especially in his well-known passage this Sunday (Romans 8:35,37-39) when he praises God's love of us present in Jesus' love of us.

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" the Apostle asks. "Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No!...I am convinced that neither death, nor life,...nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

No biblical lines are more encouraging. But how do we actually experience God's love? Sometimes, we look for it "in all the wrong places."

Our misdirected search is behind both Isaiah's words (Isaiah 55:1-3) and Jesus' actions.

"All you who are thirsty," the prophet proclaims, "come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come without paying and without cost....Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy?...Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life."

The message is clear: Don't waste your time and effort looking for any security that doesn't come from God.

Jesus' command

But how is God's security actually filtered into our lives? Matthew's Jesus tells us it comes from those around us. Throughout Sunday's Gospel, the emphasis is on Jesus' command to His followers: "Give them some food yourselves!"

He constantly refuses to accept any of their excuses. When they finally produce their insignificant amount of food, Jesus doesn't multiply anything. He simply takes the "five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, says the blessing, and gives them to the disciples," who finally do what he initially told them: They share what little they have with those around them. The result is that everyone is more than satisfied!

Jesus teaches that people should be able to depend on us to provide God's care of them, even in those instances in which we're convinced we have nothing to share.

It's easier for us just to "morph" into a referral service, tell them to ask God for what they need, and walk away from the situation.

It's far more faith-filled to fall back on the blessing with which God has endowed even our smallest offerings and be a concrete source of His care.