Here is a little thought experiment in spirituality. Imagine being a child who is carrying five barley loaves and two fishes. A crowd has gathered to listen to a man speak. You stop to listen. Maybe you are intrigued; maybe it goes over your head. After a while, you realize that many people are hungry. You are hungry too but you don’t need all the food you are carrying just then. Maybe it occurs to you that you could make a lot of money by selling a fish and three or four of the loaves to the highest bidder. Before you have a chance to act on this idea, one of the men surrounding the speaker asks you to come meet the speaker. Maybe you are nervous about this, but you want to know why such a man should want to talk to you. To your shock and surprise, the man tells you that the people all around are hungry and would you be willing to let him give the bread and fish to the crowd. Before you can reply, one of the men says “But what is this among so many?” You are asking yourself the same thing, but the speaker shrugs off the question. What do you do?
As we know from John 6, the lad with the loaves and fishes gave them to Jesus and Jesus fed the crowd with an exponential amount of food scraps left over. One fairly well-known theory is that the boy shamed everybody else into sharing their food when he handed over what he had. Maybe that is what happened. That would be a good example of a mimetic process creating abundance instead of scarcity (see Humanly Created Scarcity.) The references to God’s feeding the Israelites in the desert and the amazement in the narrative suggest that Jesus was re-enacting God’s act of creation in the wilderness. The miracle takes on all the more powerful when we realize that Jesus did not create food out of nothing which presumably he could have done, but he created out of a human act of giving. This miracle, recorded six times in the four Gospels show us that God desires abundance in the sense of everybody having enough. (The manna in the desert spoiled if anybody tried to take too much.) But God provides through multiplying our human generosity to others as the boy gave up the five loaves and two fishes to Jesus in the wilderness. Can we imitate this boy as this boy imitated Jesus?