The story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish gets a lot of "airplay" doesn't it? It's repeated in Mark's gospel, and told in all four of the gospels. It seems like almost every couple of weeks it is the gospel readings in the daily Mass. And yet, at least to me, it doesn't get old. It's evidently an important concept that the gospel writers and those in charge of the daily lectionary felt we really needed to hear.
Today, it lands on what happens to me my son Joey's 17th birthday. Joey is our third of four children. I was honestly a pretty anxious young father when we had our first child, Sarah. I was nervous before she was born. I had no real experience with babies and I was fairly certain I would screw up fatherhood. When she was born, I was honestly blown away by how much I could love someone who was so small. I was still adjusting to fatherhood and figuring out if I might be able to be good at it when my saintly wife broached the topic of having more children. I told her of my anxieties, and she made her feelings known, in a very clear way, that she felt we should have more children. Thankfully my wife Heather was able to put aside my fears, and we have been blessed to parent our four kids.
All along, part of my fear was, could I have enough love for more kids? I loved Sarah so much—could I do the same for more children? The answer was for me, "YES!" Benjamin came along and then Joey—happy birthday, Joester!—and finally Bereket. My heart was broken and opened up countless times in this parenting journey, and I am so blessed. Furthermore, they have blessed the world with their goodness. Thank God, again, for my wife.
It's like the loaves and fish. The disciples (me) look around and tell Jesus that we just don't have enough for all these people. Jesus (Heather) looks around and says, set aside your fears, it's all going to be OK. We have more than enough food and love for everyone. Thank God for the people in our life who calm our fears and return us to love.
—Steve Ruemenapp serves as director of community formation, and is a husband and father of four.