The other day I heard a popular interpretation of the feeding of the 5000, wherein Jesus doesn’t really multiply the loaves and fishes, He just inspires everyone by His generosity to share what they have. Such an explanation of this revelation of Christ’s purpose and being is very satisfying to the 21st century intellect that views actual miracles as being rather simplistic. “It’s not like He’s a Magic Jesus.” That sort of thinking leads to a race to explain away all the miracles of Jesus via “ordinary explanations,” to eliminate any real reason for Wonder or Awe at the Christ.
Even though I understood mentally the idea that the greater miracle was the moving of men’s hearts than the creation of food for the masses, such an interpretation has always bothered me. It wasn’t until I heard a discussion of Transubstantiation that I recognized what about that understanding of this particular miracle bothered my spirit. The bread and wine, under the scrutiny of a microscope remains the bread and wine, yet when consecrated, is Jesus’s body and blood. This belief is the crux of Catholicism, it is what separates Us from the rest of Christianity. The Eucharist is not a symbol or a reminder, it is Christ present fully in our midst. We repeat “This is what we believe,” every time we say Amen in receiving communion.
The dual nature of Christ has plagued people’s capacity for faith since the early Church. Yet accepting if not understanding that dualism is critical to being authentically Catholic.
Jesus was fully man and fully God and neither reality prevented the other. Mary was both the Virgin and the Mother of God. The answer repeated itself over and over again in other stories of Christ’s power and authenticity. Lazarus was both dead and resurrected. The lame man had his sins forgiven and his legs healed. Was it not all the more likely that Christ in the blessing, breaking and sharing of the loaves and the fishes, both fed the people and inspired others to imitate His example?
The 21st century urge to turn Jesus into “simply a good teacher” is nothing new. People have been denying Christ since they first heard of his existence, be they Herod, Peter, Paul, Sarte, John Lennon or Christopher Hitchens.. Jesus is not magic, He is Miraculous. He knows following Him is difficult and dangerous, and thus tells us “Be Not Afraid.” He knows we need nothing short of the impossible to comprehend the difference between us and God and to believe, and thus He takes up and endures the Cross and Crucifixion. We cannot comprehend His Full Humanity without his Death, nor His full Divinity without the Resurrection.
Pass the loaves and fishes please.
Copyright 2009 Sherry Antonetti