Saturday, August 2, 2014

Byzantine (and Roman): 8th Sunday after Pentecost (18th in Ordinary Time) (8/3/14)

Note: The Gospel for this week is the feeding of the 5000 in both the Byzantine and Roman Rites! Here's the link to this week's reflection from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Sorry: I didn't get the Apostol done for this week, so I only have the Gospel.

Apostol: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18


Gospel

One of the greatest disappointments of my grade school career was being told in fifth grade that the numbers here weren't real, that they were exaggerations or something like that. That was really a letdown for a kid who believed that the Lord really had fed 5000 people. It would be a long time before I was vindicated in believing that there were really 5000.

A fun little heresy that I've heard of (though haven't heard professed, to my memory) is that the big miracle here was that the people... wait for it... keep waiting... just a little longer... SHARED! Yes. That's right: no miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes here, just sharing.

For both of those theories, I say yeah right.

What both theories have in common is that they tend to do away with the miraculous. If there weren't really 5000 people, but only, say, five, it's hardly miraculous that Christ could have fed them with limited provisions, isn't it? And again, there's hardly any miracle about people sharing with each other; any half-decent failed messianic prophet (and there were a lot of those) with a little charisma should be able to do that. Nothing special here, folks, move along.

See the problem here? No miracles, nothing out of the ordinary, precious little to make people suspect that "God has visited His people" (Luke 7:16) in Christ. And I think that what's going on here is more that people are reading their assumptions into the text than anything else. The text clearly presents this as a miraculous event (especially Matthew 16:5-11). No, what's going on here is more likely that some have become convinced that miracles don't happen, and have gone on to convince others that they don't. And, because of this presupposition that miracles can't happen, they have to invent other explanations for the text which range from "stretching it" at best to "just plain stupid" or worse.

The fact is, St. Matthew presents us with a miracle. Now, are we going to accept that it was a miracle, or will we be like last week's Pharisees who didn't see what was plain to all?

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