Loaves and Fishes

orig. published in The Jesuit Philippine Province XXIX, 1 (March 1980), 39–41.

In this homily, Fr. De la Costa reflects on the gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, and highlights its relevance to the question of overpopulation and food production:

And so I should think, God will deal with us also with reference to the problem we face of making the resources of our planet support its increasing population. The more we are willing, effectively, to share what there is with others, the more surely he will see to it that there will be enough to share.
We need not expect that he will do this by a miracle.
Saint Augustine used to say that Nature itself is a miracle; that what God constantly causes by the laws of nature is just as marvelous as what he occasionally performs by suspending them, the only difference being that we have got used to the one and so are startled by the other.
The whole history of mankind has been a process of discovering, by stages, how to unleash and harness the incalculable forces that God has built into the simplest things around us, precisely in order that we may discover, unleash and harness them.
And if we have now found a power in Nature capable of destroying all life on this planet, surely we can find in the same God-given source a power to support, improve and enhance it for ourselves, and for all the generations yet unborn.
Perhaps, after all, this whole problem of resources may be somewhat simpler than we thought. It may be that we do not produce enough in our country because entirely too many pepole are too ill fed, to ill clothed, to ill housed, to sick and too ignorant to do a full day’s work. And perhaps this is the case because others have somehow managed to get more than their just share; in which case we shall do well to give an occasional alms, or contribute to an occasional charity. But we must not deceive ourselves that we are thereby solving our social problems.
We can only do that by doing justice; by seeing to it that justice is done not only in our law courts but in our workshops, our rice field, our offices, our factories and mills — everywhere, and to everyone, in our land.

from H. de la Costa: Homilies and Reflections, ed. Roberto Paterno, pp. 87–89.