A great multitude has followed Jesus far from the inhabited places1. They follow Him without worrying about the distances, the heat or the cold, because their need is great and they feel welcomed. They are attentive to those words that give meaning to their lives, and they even forget the most elementary thing: they have no provisions to eat, nor is there any place to buy them. This does not seem to worry them or Jesus. But the disciples become aware of the situation and, in the evening, they go to the Master and tell him: The place is deserted and the hour is past; send the people away so that they may go to the villages to buy food. This is the reality, which seems evident to all. But Jesus knows a higher reality, of possibilities that the most intimate disciples seem to be unaware of. Therefore, he answers them: They have no need to go, you give them something to eat. But they, well aware of their destitution, say to him: We have here only five loaves and two fish.
The disciples see the objective reality: they are aware that with those foods they cannot feed a multitude. So it happens to us when we make a calculation of our strengths and possibilities: we are overcome by the difficulties of our own life and apostolate. Mere human objectivity would lead us to discouragement and pessimism; it would make us forget the radical optimism that comes with the Christian vocation, which has other foundations. Popular wisdom says: "he who leaves God out of his accounts does not know how to count"; and he does not know how to count because he forgets precisely the most important sum. The Apostles did their calculations well, they counted the loaves and fishes available with complete accuracy..., but they forgot that Jesus, with his power, was at their side. And this fact radically changed the situation; the true reality was quite different. "In apostolic enterprises it is good - it is a duty - that you consider your earthly means (2 + 2 = 4), but never forget that you must count, fortunately, on another sum: God + 2 + 2 + 2... "2. To forget that summand would be to falsify the true situation. Being supernaturally realistic leads us to count on God's grace, which is a very real "datum".
The Christian's optimism is not based on the absence of difficulties, resistance and personal mistakes, but on God, who tells us: I will be with you always3. With Him we can do everything; we overcome... even when we apparently fail. This is the optimism that the saints had. The Saint of Avila repeated, with good humor and supernatural sense: "Teresa alone can do nothing; Teresa and a maravedi, less than nothing; Teresa, a maravedi and God, can do everything ". "Cast away from you that despair that the knowledge of your misery produces in you. -It is true: for your economic prestige, you are a zero..., for your social prestige, another zero..., and another for your virtues, and another for your talent....
"But, to the left of these negations, there is Christ.... And what an immeasurable number it is!" How the available forces change when it is time to undertake an apostolic enterprise or when we decide to struggle in the interior life, or in the very realities of human life, leaning on the Lord!