The Miracle of loaves and fishes explained?
Today, our message is the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Our Lord instigated that all present could eat and be filled, even though there were many of them. Are there possible natural explanations; is the story hyperbole; or, is it just a myth?
Jesus’ actions could be explained by secular interpretation as nothing more than illustrating Jesus as a remarkable social worker, of sorts. The story has been explained in a conversion meaning those present on the grass in a miraculous way began to understand what it means to share what they had with others. Another emphasis points to the plight of the people in the Middle East during the first century, and how their plight relates to the hungry of the world today.
These explanations, of the story of the multiplication of loaves and fishes are valid if they are only considered on a horizontal plane, or better said, only in relation to the temporal world. The Kingdom of God is not only of the world, it transcends the mundane and is holy, spiritual and supernatural.
The Eucharist uses the natural to help mortals recognize the eternal
If we refocus our reflections to include the spiritual reality of life, the explanations that Christ is a social worker, or the sharing motif among individuals, or a statement about hunger in the world becomes woefully inadequate. The multiplication of loaves and fishes viewed from the spiritual perspective indicates this miracle, points to a greater reality, a greater importance. It begins to shed light upon the Mystery of the Eucharist, a mystery that is at the same time grounded in the world, as well as the spiritual. Both are realities, both equally worthy of our contemplation in union with each other.
The worldly element of the Eucharist is the bread and the wine offered by the Church (you and me) in union, representing our very lives. The spiritual element is the transformation of that bread and wine into the very Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This transformation is not symbolic, for no symbol could ever effectuate our redemption and the forgiveness of sin. Every time the Eucharist is offered throughout the world, the ‘re-presentation’ of the sacrifice of Calvary happens over and over again for our salvation and that of the world.
If for whatever reason, you find it improbable or impossible to believe that any type of miracle can occur without some empirical explanation, then you will find it most difficult to believe that present on that altar after Eucharistic Prayer, is indeed the real presence of our resurrected Lord.
If you struggle with this concept, do not loose heart, for many holy men and women throughout the course of history have done the same. They have had to work out in their own minds that miracles can and do occur, and reality is not only based or limited to our physical understanding of the world. And for many of these saints, they have surrendered the control of their rational minds and have been open to let that Mystery and miracle to engulf them.
The familiarity and unfamiliarity we may have with the Eucharist may lead you to be skeptical, it may lead you to question the Mystery of God. Don’t be dishearten, you are in good company. Even St. Philip, questions our Lord about the feasibility of feeding so many people. “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? Not even two hundred days’ wages could we buy loaves enough to give each of them a mouthful!”
At one time or another, we are all like Philip and question our Lord as to the possibility of feeding so many in the Eucharist? The only way to surmount the disbelief is to surrender to the mystery.
Even if you believe now you can believe more deeply. Take time to begin to surrender some of your pride, your intellects, your very selves. By surrendering it will open you up to the inexhaustible Mystery of Christ in the Eucharist, truly present in what was just bread and wine.