Wednesday, August 22, 2012


After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Jesus instructed His disciples to gather up what remained and put it into baskets. They might have been large woven baskets used to carry crops from neighboring fields. Obviously, no paper bags or plastic available. Jesus was surely frugal. What was left over was so much more in quantity than what they started out with. We aren't told for whose needs those particular leftovers were used. They were not stale and certainly were still nourishing.

Perhaps Jesus left that decision of their disposition to the disciples. They were accustomed to feeding the poor with some of the money that apparently passed through the hands of Jesus, which had been given to Him for their daily provisions by generous people. 

We don’t find it recorded in Scripture that Jesus and His disciples were wandering mendicants begging for food. We are told that a group of caring, benevolent women probably of financial means were part of his entourage. They followed Jesus not only to hear His life-giving teachings but to attend to their collective material needs. When they traveled on foot from village to village, the women probably helped set up camp for the group. We read that the disciples were instructed by Jesus to stop along the way and buy provisions at what would be some village market. We know that one of His disciples even held the position of treasurer for oversight of those funds—the one who eventually betrayed Him. The faithful women followers would probably cook, serve, and do the cleanup.

As we advance in years, it is inevitable that many of our friends and family die and we feel like “leftovers” too. We may feel marginalized and useless. But we can be sure that God still has His eye on us and His hand on our lives. He doesn't discard us because we are not as useful or productive in our own estimation or in the view of others. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. We are His precious children from conception to natural death after which He brings us at last into the glorious presence of His full beatific vision. Immortal life is ahead of us. God has an eternal plan for both our bodies and our souls. The Scripture declares that all of our days and years are predestined by God before we have even lived them.

It follows that we have no right to terminate our own lives nor allow anyone else to take our lives from us, nor may we take the life of another. 

I was shocked recently to read an article about “Death-mobiles” in the Netherlands. As of March of 2012, if you are frail and disabled or elderly and feel like “a leftover” and want to end your life, the government makes it easier for you. If you are physically unable to get to a clinic to die, a mobile euthanasia van will be dispatched to your location to kill you. You don't have to inconvenience your neighbor, family, or relatives or ring up a taxi charge as one of your last actions on earth. The Netherlands estimates they will be able to kill about 1000 extra people per year with this unique service.

It took only 72 years for history to repeat itself. During the Nazi reign of terror, the Nazis dispatched “gas vans” to kill civilians who could not get into their “work camps” to die. How convenient! Now the Dutch have gone back in history and borrowed Hitler's ideas to rid society of the marginalized, the unwanted “leftovers,” the unproductive undesirables of human life.

Before we point fingers, let's look at our own country. Our laws permit and facilitate the killing of the unborn; some states have already legitimized euthanasia. However, as Blessed John Paul II stated in Evangelium Vitae, “So-called 'assisted suicide' means to cooperate in, and at times to be the actual perpetrator of, an injustice which can never be excused, even if it is requested. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize.”

Our lives from first breath to last breath are in God's hands alone. He has made no provision to eliminate his precious “leftover” children of any age until His perfect plan for each one of them is complete. And He decides!

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