Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus feeds the crowd of four thousand, which is a wonderful biblical illustration of what I have often called the loop of grace.
The constant command of the Bible is this: what you have received as a gift, give as a gift—and you will find the original gift multiplied and enhanced. God’s grace, precisely because it is grace, cannot be held on to; rather, it is had only in the measure that it remains grace—that is to say, a gift given away. God’s life, in a word, is had only on the fly. One realizes this truth when one enters willingly into the loop of grace, giving away that which one is receiving.
At the outset of the story, the disciples refuse to serve the crowd, preferring to send them away to the neighboring towns to fend for themselves. At the climax of the narrative, the disciples become themselves the instruments of nourishment, setting the loaves and fishes before the people. Within the loop of grace, they discover their mission and are themselves enhanced, transfigured.