Loaves and Fishes

Bewilderment, even despair, may devour our better selves at this time. Seeking and recognizing the goodness that is so much a part of being human is more necessary than ever as counterpoints, antidotes, to the turmoil of the past five months. Those moments are still tucked in the most ordinary of times: the Fed Ex worker who stops to persoanlly deliver a package to an elderly person, the neighbor who helps carry in the groceries, the child dancing in the store aisle. There is a strength, a goodness, that resides tin the human person and challenges so many of the images of media. There is a core to who we are as human beings that challenges the destructive and divisive social forces captured in media. There is a sameness to humanity that defies the evolution of technology and social media in our time. Hope is centered on a reality that transcends what is most visible to us.

To postulate the existence of God in a world immersed in science is hardly contradictory. Instead, the concept invites questioning, curiosity and humility, the idea that there may be more than we suspect to the realities that we define. To be able to entertain the concept dares us to carry what we have learned from science and psychology and apply it in a new and different way. It enables looking more deeply and exploring more fully the dimensions of human existence, purpose and process. Somewhat counter-cultural, it involves fully acknowledging the many facets of human existence and persons, circumstances and contexts. And yet, it is celebrating the very things that are related to what is currently known as “well-being”. To dare to explore it is to dare to be different as well as to acknowledge the nuances of being human.

Today’s Gospel of Matthew, the parable of the loaves and fishes, encourages a trust we may need for the journey. The disciples of Jesus suggested dismissing the crowds; Jesus, instead, takes the loaves and fishes and blesses them, and the disciples can feed the crowd. Mulitple interpretations exist; just now, the parable relates that was needed in the moment was actually there. And so it is in this moment of time: what we need already exists within us. The parable goes no further: there is no promise about outcome, no definition of system. It is simply that what was needed was found. It was already there, within the sacred space where the crowd was gathered. Trusting that is a chance to become curious enough to discover the divine nestled within the most human of experiences.

Paul epitomized that radical trust. He becomes the outsized hero of the New Testament with his visible and fiery conversion. But it is also Paul who demonstrates in his experience and confides in his writings that daring to seek and choosing to believe is more than life-changing. His path opens possibilities for each of us. It would be easy now to walk away, to contribute to the chaos, to believe that there is no way to emerge from this time period better than we were before. But there is so much more: we can deal with the realities of our time with the resources within us. We can trust the loaves and fishes can be found within us, and we can remember that there is nothing at all that can separate us from the reality of the divine within us.

“Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” Romans 8

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