July 26, 2011

The Miracle

The picture at left is of one of the shelves in my office bookcase.  A, my able youth ministry volunteer/Sunday school coordinator gave me "Miracle Jesus" for Christmas a couple years ago.  Two miracles are featured with the glow-in-the-dark handed Jesus action figure: The turning of water into wine and, what I have dubbed The Miracle, The Feeding of the 5000.

You'll note the five loaves and two fish on the paten (next to the water jug that flips over for wine) and the multitude in the background.

I think if you took a man-on-the-street type survey of the miracles of Jesus, the feeding of the 5000 would be the clear winner.  Never mind the fact that it was more a feeding of the 10 or 15 thousand, this miracle gets our attention because it has to do with the one basic we all share: food.

It is the only miracle that appears in all four gospels and as the NAB notes state below, it is full of allusions both forward and back.

"The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus that is recounted in all four gospels. The principal reason for that may be that it was seen as anticipating the Eucharist and the final banquet in the kingdom (Matthew 8:11; 26:29), but it looks not only forward but backward, to the feeding of Israel with manna in the desert at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 16), a miracle that in some contemporary Jewish expectation would be repeated in the messianic age (2Ba 29:8). It may also be meant to recall Elisha's feeding a hundred men with small provisions (2 Kings 4:42-44)."

As our news is full of billionaire owners and millionaire football players, political wrangling over a looming debt crisis, and historic droughts in Africa, the abundant provision of Jesus in this story seems as profound as ever.  How does the Church, as the body of Christ, re-create this miracle on an ongoing basis? How are we called, like the disciples, to feed people even in our scarcity?  How is God's abundance alive and well even in the midst of our philosophy of scarcity?

Lots of questions this week, and short week to ponder them, but I'm glad to be back.

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