God’s Providence

6th Sunday after Pentecost
Beloved in Jesus Christ, after having escaped from Egypt through the Red Sea, the ancient Israelites made the treacherous journey through the desert for 40 years.  And through those whole 40 years of traveling, their clothes and their shoes never wore out. This is told us, in the Book of Deuteronomy (8:4).
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Their clothes never wore out! And not only that, but in the desert, they drank water that gushed from a dry rock, they ate miraculous quail, and manna appeared daily as bread for them to eat. Divine Providence cared for them, as long as they trusted the plan of God.
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Some of them however, were worried that God might not keep providing the manna every day; so just in case, they stored up extra manna, even though God had told them not to do it. In fact, they found that the manna they saved for the next day was always full of maggots. God was not pleased with their lack of trust in his Providence.
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Divine Providence is the care that God exercises over the universe. The Catechism says, ‘The universe was created “in a state of journeying” toward an ultimate perfection to which God has destined it.’ CCC 302 The plan by which God guides his creation toward this perfection is called ‘Divine Providence.’ Thomas Aquinas will say, ‘Everything has a place in God’s Providence, and this in no mere general way, but in particular, in individual, down to the last and least detail.’ (Summa of Summa)
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But so often, we do not trust Divine Providence. We live a constricted and fearful life, hoarding up for ourselves everything and anything, just in case – just in case God forgets us. Father Jacques Philippe says, ‘A lack of trust of what God can do in our life, and what we can do with his help, leads to a shrinkage of the heart.’  
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Now while it is true that we must focus on doing the details of our work, living up to our responsibilities, we must ever-maintain the glorious and big picture of God’s loving Providence, that we are acting within a grand scheme of a Good Master-Father.
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In the Gospel today, Jesus multiplies the few loaves and fishes to feed the multitude. Thousands of people from 7 loaves. Who would have ever thought that God could do so much, with our so little? Yet so often we question God: Lord, this won’t work. Why is this happening, this thing here – you made a mistake.
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Now we mustn’t attribute evil to God; all the pain, and evil, and sin, and suffering ultimately are rooted in that evil Fool who lives in hell. But God uses secondary causes to accomplish his plan. He knows every single thing, and will always be able to draw good out of whatever the Fool throws at us. God’s Providence cannot be stopped.
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If we are out on a lake riding in a motorboat, we look back at the wake behind us; we see the turbulent water, but our eye is also raised to the beautiful expanse of where we’ve been: of the vast distance we have traversed, the new perspective of the shore, the distant hills and forests. In our life, we are often bogged down by the restricted concerns of today, yet when we glance at where we’ve been; yes, we see the turbulence, but we also see the beauty of Divine Providence which has seen us safely through it all.
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In 1608, an English ship came to the New World at Plymouth. The Indians innocently met them, but were brutally captured and taken to Spain and sold into slavery. Where was God? Where is his Providence?
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Well, one of those Indians, whose name was Squanto, was purchased by a group of Catholic friars and set free. He made his way to England where he worked and learned English. Although he never dreamed it could be possible, he was one day offered a trip back to the New World. Ten years after he had been captured, Squanto returned to his homeland.
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But when he arrived, in grief, he realized that his entire tribe had perished from disease. He realized that had he not been kidnapped, he would also be dead. For years, he lived alone in the woods. In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower arrived, bringing pilgrims. Their journey had been difficult, and in the frigid conditions of that winter, half of them died. They no doubt wondered, ‘where is God? They seriously considered returning because they really did not know how to live in this New Land.
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But one day, an Indian walked out of the woods to greet them; and – he spoke perfect English. He knew everything about surviving in New England, and he could speak to them; he taught them how to plant corn and squash and methods for fishing. The Pilgrims adopted him as one of their own. He changed everything, making it possible for them to survive. To the people, Squanto was the answer to their prayers, an outrageous miracle that had walked out of the woods to help them.
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Friends, we question God’s Providence so many times; but is the King of the World really lacking in wisdom or goodness,[i] so that we must be fearful about our future? No. This universe will one day be dissolved. But what consequence in Gods sight is this machine of the world? Without effort He can make a thousand others. The events which we spend too much time worrying over, politics, revolutions, the succession of empires through history, – in God’s sight they are child’s play. Everything is here to save souls.
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Fr. James Mallon asks: ‘Is our vision too small? Is our vision big enough for God? Do we believe that God is doing and wants to do great things with our life, which seems perhaps, so hum-drum today?
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‘And He asked them: how many loaves do you have?’
Who said to him: ‘Seven.’
‘But what can be done Lord, with only 7 loaves? ‘Trust me’
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Fr. Joseph Schryvers says, God’s Providence, His sanctifying of souls, knows no limits. It makes light of difficulties, turns obstacles aside, forces its enemies to serve as instruments.
Before the patience of a holy soul, violence exhausts itself, deceit is entangled in its own net; what is intended to be its ruin, becomes the soul’s salvation. But St. Paul has already said it: for those who love God all things work together unto good.
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And when we look at the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her life was turned upside down: birth in a stable, arduous trips, no rest, her Son mocked, crucified – but Mary knew God’s Providence. In the Holy Scriptures she exclaims: ‘He that is mighty, has done great things for me.’ Why did Mary not explain what are the great things God has done for her?[ii] Why did she not explain to us God’s Providence? She did not explain it, because it is inexplicable.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Little Audrey Santo]

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[i] The Gift of Oneself, Joseph Schryvers, pp. 14-19

[ii] Glories of Mary, p. 367

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