“God Doesn’t Need Your Help – He Wants It!” By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Flickr User Chris Potako

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I’ll often ask my young children to help me with things. I may not need their help, but I want them to participate; let’s take vacuuming up the crumbs they made from their snacks they ate as I sat down to write this. I could vacuum more quickly and efficiently by myself, but they love helping and it’s good for them, even if I have to do a final pass myself at the end to get whatever they missed. The same with cooking; my wife will let them be her sous chefs in the kitchen. Inevitably this makes a huge mess and takes a lot longer, but it’s so good for them to help in that way.

God is much the same way as our Father. God doesn’t need your help. He’s all-powerful. He created space and time. He stretched out the stars in the sky. He created the wind and the waves. He can make something from nothing. So why over and over again throughout the Bible are there stories of God working with the help of people like you and me to accomplish miraculous things?

Take the Parting of the Red Sea for example; God told Moses to lift up his staff and stretch his hand over the sea, and it would split in two so the Israelites could pass through the sea on dry land. There’s no mistaking that this was the power of God on display, and he could have had had the sea already split by the time they got there. But God willed that Moses’ simple act of lifting up his staff would play an important part of how this would unfold.

A while later on the journey of the Israelites into the Promised Land, they come to Jericho, an incredible fortress city known for its very thick walls. God tells his people to march around the city once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. Then they were to blow their trumpets; and the walls fell down flat. He could have had the walls pre-flattened by the time they got there, or sent the city’s soldiers on an all-expense-paid cruise the day before. But again, this was clearly God acting miraculously, yet he willed that his people would play a part in this great work.

In the both the First Reading and the Gospel this week, we have 2 more stories of God working in this way. Jesus feeds the multitudes in the Gospel, multiplying five loaves and two fish, and in a story from the Old Testament prefiguring this, the prophet Elisha also feeds many with only a little. God is all-powerful. Jesus could have snapped his fingers and miraculously filled the bellies of all who were there listening to him. Or he could have made a fish sandwich miraculously appear in front of each person with a nice side salad. But he willed that the boy who showed up with the five loaves and two fish, and the disciples helping distribute and then collecting the fragments afterward, would participate in this miraculous work.

God WANTS to use our gifts, talents, resources, and experience to do amazing things in the lives of those around us. He wants us to participate with him and play a part in the unfolding of his redeeming work in the world. So think today, where might God want to use you, even if it seems way above your pay-grade? All you have to do is show up with your loaves and fish, or raise your staff in the air, and he’ll take care of the rest.

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