"QUIT IT!" Vying for the Father's attention...
“QUIT IT” the one brother screams at the other as they annoy each other...
If you ever have the opportunity to watch little brothers and sisters interact, (and sometimes even not so little) - a somewhat common experience is when they seem to be vying for their parents attention and affection almost in a competitive sense. Children sometimes fear that when Mom and Dad give love, give time, give energy to one child there won’t be enough for them. And while they are in the throws of this “competition,” the kids can resort to all kinds of things - tattling on each other, faking illnesses or injuries, sabotaging family activities, even picking fights with one another to see who’s side Mom or Dad will side with. It can be somewhat severe and disruptive for a family.
Hopefully in time, the children will learn there’s no reason to fear or doubt the love of their parents. That Mom and Dad have more than enough love for all their children - there isn’t a limited supply of love - the more it is given, the more it multiplies.
That image of possessive children unwilling to share the love of their parents came to mind in today’s Gospel. Jesus’ heart is moved with pity for the crowds - he is attentive to them and what is the disciples reaction? They tell him “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
They want Jesus all for themselves. They don’t want to share Him, share His love with anyone else, and in fact, how many times through the Gospels do we see the sibling rivalry among the disciples themselves?
One realization that comes from the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is that when we give love, it isn’t a limited supply, the more it is given, the more it multiplies - it can supply more than enough, even an abundance to all those who need it. 5 loaves and two fish feed thousands and the left overs fill over 12 baskets full.
For some reason though, that lingering doubt, that fear can still creep in over time. We see someone else is blessed in some way, and we become jealous – why doesn’t God do that for me? A prayer that we have been praying for isn’t answered the way we want it answered and we become frustrated – why doesn’t God answer my prayers the way he does for other people?
And the more these doubts, these fears, these irrational childish thoughts run thru our heads, the more we begin to feel God doesn’t love us as much as his other children.
Which is why today’s reading from St. Paul to the Romans is one of my favorites. St. Paul basically puts that question out there - what can separate us from the Love of God? When do we have the proof that, yeah, he must love His other kids better than us? When we have tribulations? When we experience death? When we are being persecuted or feel abandoned? When we are poor, and needy and hungering and thirsting? Is that it?
Paul responds - Nothing can separate us from the Love of God poured out in Christ Jesus our Lord.
No matter what circumstance, situation, or position we find ourselves in at this moment... No matter what our sometimes childish behavior or attitudes might seem to be telling us - God’s extravagant, overwhelming and generous Love is for all of us. There’s not a limit to it for us or for anyone else. And if we are willing to take the risk to share that Love, instead of annoying each other, attacking each other, acting like possessive children vying for our Father’s affection – we might be surprised to see how that Love is more than enough to fulfill all our needs, and those of all those around us.
Posted by Fr. Jim Chern