At first, it seems odd that in the middle of such abundance that Jesus tells us not to let anything perish. It is typically right in the middle of plentitude that we are less concerned with a little squandering here or there. When money is abundant, we don’t count pennies as often.

Here we have an excess beyond all measure. Ten thousand or more people were just taken to dinner and right at the point of infinite supply where you don’t have to worry about collecting every little scrap because he can always just conjure up some more, he says, “Get it all so that nothing is lost.”

Once I was talking with a friend who is a Jewish spiritual leader. In the course of our conversation, she said something like, “Judaism tends to focus on helping people in the here and now. Christianity tends to focus on what happens after people die.” I said, “I understand why you would think that. That is certainly the way some people, especially in the American Evangelical community talk, but that’s not really our tradition.” The problem she addresses is real though.

If your conception of heaven is such that it results in a lack of action in the here and now, it’s probably not really heaven that you are thinking of. The eternal makes even the most minor issues of life full of significance. It means that even in the midst of great abundance, we have to go pick up the scraps of our lives so that they too can be used for nourishment.