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Friends, in today’s Gospel, we see Jesus’ miracle of feeding the five thousand. Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down with his disciples. In Scripture, mountains are places of encounter, where God comes down and men and women go up.

The disciples want to dismiss the hungry crowd, but Jesus says, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” Jesus is interested not only in instructing the crowds but in feeding them as well. The disciples bring forth a poor pittance—five barley loaves and two fish—and observe that this is woefully inadequate for so many. But Jesus presses forward, taking, giving thanks, and having the disciples distribute the bread. And everyone is fed.

A significant theological principle is in play here: God has no need vis-à-vis the world that he has made. Precisely because he stands to gain nothing from the world, whatever is given to him breaks against the rock of the divine self-sufficiency and redounds to the benefit of the giver. From this principle follows as a corollary what St. John Paul II called the law of the gift—namely, that one’s being increases in the measure that one gives oneself away.