“How can I possibly take care of all of these needs?” I’d be willing to bet that there isn’t a mother alive who hasn’t asked herself this same question. Like Vaudeville plate spinners, mothers are accustomed to keeping many things going at once and are all too familiar with feeling overwhelmed when trying to accomplish so much. Mothers can be tempted to feel inadequate when faced with the magnitude of work and self-giving their vocation requires of them. Just feeding and physically caring for children is a monumental job, but add to it multiple children, illnesses, financial concerns, creating a balance between one’s job and home-life, navigating the complexities of relationships within the family, remaining sensitive to each family members’ emotional concerns, maintaining a healthy marriage or piloting life as a single parent, and it’s no wonder mothers feel spread so thin.
Jesus’ miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes can serve as a great reminder that he can provide for all the needs mothers face when they are all too aware that what they have to offer seems like too little. Imagine how the apostles must have felt when, after suggesting to Jesus that they send the people away to buy food, he told them to feed the people themselves. They knew the five loaves and two fishes was a laughable amount to feed thousands, yet when the apostles followed Jesus’ directions, he multiplied the little that was offered so that everyone was filled. When a mother feels overwhelmed by the needs of her family she can acknowledge her dependence on Jesus; she can remind herself who it is to whom she has entrusted her life and her family – God himself who loves her without limit; she can bring her needs to her loving Father in prayer asking Him to provide what she lacks and to multiply her efforts, just as Jesus miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes; and she can move forward in faith, offering the seemingly little she has when compared to the task at hand.
The work of a Catholic mother is a mighty and integral part to God’s plan. Mothers are called to help create and build up the members of the church to carry out God’s work on earth, but the women God calls to this holy work do not bear the burden of accomplishing this task on their own. Through offering themselves and what they have to give, God can multiply their gifts and provide for His children with plenty to spare – one feeding, one teaching opportunity, one scraped knee, one ride home from practice, one late night conversation, one act of love at a time.