It’s A Miracle!

2-fish-5-loavesTake a moment with me and step into this scene.  You are now a first century Galilean. Its pay day so you stop and buy a few barley loaves and while you are at the fish market, you hear the growing fame of Jesus, the carpenter from Nazereth, who confounds the Pharisees with unconventional but plain wisdom, and who reportedly heals the sick.  He is only a few  hours walk from your little town of Capernaum, so maybe it is time get your blind uncle Bartemeus and check the story out.  You would probably take about five loaves of bread and a couple of dried fish, enough for a grown person to eat for about two days, to last through the journey.

When you arrive at the hilltop from which Jesus is preaching and healing, it is quite a sight.
There must be 5000 people trying to see him.  That is the most people you have ever seen in one place.  Herod’s new amphitheater in the Galilean capital of Tiberius is supposed to hold 7000, but it hasn’t been filled yet.  This little hilltop has temporarily become the second largest city in Galilee.  There are people from all over – farmers from the hill towns, fishermen from little villages, a bunch of construction workers from Tiberius, who are mostly immigrants from North Africa or Syria.

Philip miscalculates when he tries to calculate the cost of feeding the hungry crowd. He has no inkling of what Jesus intends to do. Who can? The gift of the fullness of messianic Life is beyond calculation, beyond expectation, beyond imagination. Yet, this is precisely Jesus’ Gift to us.

This gospel account is far more than an interesting story about a miracle and abundance; it primes us to ponder the great mystery of Jesus himself as the Bread of Life (which we will hear about on subsequent Sundays) and his  self-giving that enables us to share in it. The challenge for us is far more than believing in Jesus’ power to multiply loaves and fishes; the challenge is recognizing Jesus’ self-giving as a sign of fulfillment and promise of eschatological glory that we share even now. We Christians are to see our lives through the lens of God’s lavish abundance. Do we?
It is too easy to think of God’s lavish abundance primarily (maybe exclusively?) in terms of the Eucharist we share each Sunday. Indeed, this is a mighty act of God on our behalf, and Eucharist always is an eschatological sign of God’s abundance and a time of future fulfillment. However, we ought not to let this lull us into missing other signs of God’s abundance: the abundance of family and friends, steady job, support and care of others. God’s abundance is all around us. Calculate that!