On August 1, 2020 I made my Final Profession (finally!) as a Lay Dominican, and today is the Feast of St. Dominic!. It was a long process, and I know I will always have more to learn. Our chapter had been meeting via conference calls for several months, but this month we were able to meet in person with social distancing and masks.
I signed up to do the reflection again, because I thought that would be an extra special way to mark my special day. I am posting my reflection here, with a few modifications:
When I signed up to do this month’s reflection, I did so thinking about the possibility of making my Final Profession this day. Here we are, and it is happening! Thanks be to God!
I absolutely love the Gospel passage for this Sunday (Matthew 14:13-21.) Initially, I wanted to reflect particularly on how it relates to my walk, and perhaps yours, as a Lay Dominican. Then I did some more reading in our Homework, Preaching Better, and saw my notes as way too self-centered! I actually laughed as I was reading.
So, I am returning to some of my initial thoughts on these passages. Don’t worry; I will still add a bit of me.
Many people, even outside the Church, are familiar with the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. The Feeding of the 5000 is told in all four Gospels. Feeding 4,000 is only in Matthew and Mark, and I saw conflicting theories on whether or not these were two separate events. Suffice it to say, Jesus fed a lot of people after starting out with very little food.
I recall one summer when I was visiting my parents in SC, their pastor spoke about this passage. He made the claim that the miracle wasn’t that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, but rather that people shared what they had, perhaps hidden in their sleeves or cloak. I was shaken by this claim. Did he really dismiss this miracle?
Sadly, he is not the only one who makes this claim. I had a discussion about this passage with one of my former pastors in Danville years ago. I asked, was this a miracle or just a big warm fuzzy picnic? He chuckled, sensing my frustration. He said that for many people, the truly miraculous events are just too hard to believe. They are seen as fables. Even in a murder mystery I read earlier this summer (yes, I indulge in those from time to time) a key character referenced this passage, and talked about the “miracle” being the fact that people shared what they had.
Nonsense! Look, if and when people share from their limited funds, limited food, limited time, it is a beautiful thing. It is generous and loving. But it is not miraculous.
From the Catholic Answers website, we learn what the Church sees as miraculous:
- Exclusively attributable to divine power
- Beyond the power of created nature
- Beyond the order of created nature
- Extraordinary; baptism gives us grace, but that is how God designed it to be, so it is not miraculous
- Sensible; we can sense it with eyes, nose, etc.
In our current cultural environment, I think many people are lacking a sense of wonder and awe, making it easy to dismiss true miracles. Even among people I know personally: they believe God exists, they even believe Jesus died and rose again…but only in the intellectual-I-guess-I-am-supposed-to-believe-this way. They do not possess a sufficient sense of amazement.
Imagine being one of the 5000 fed that day. You see the crowd. Maybe you are close enough to see an apostle asking if anyone has food. There isn’t much to go around. And yet…you eat and are satisfied. You would have been AMAZED.
We need this amazement again. Our culture is dying in an abyss of cynicism, depression, anger, resentment…
We need wonder and awe. Jesus is more than a nice guy who did nice things. He is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity! He is God Incarnate! When we speak of Him, do we express a sense of awe? I confess, I don’t often enough.
Yes, Jesus is also very approachable. He loves us and wants to spend eternity with us. It is a great mystery. He is a Friend, and He is Lord.
Jesus reached out to those hungry people and fed them in a truly miraculous way. But the amazing thing is, He isn’t finished with us! The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes was the precursor to the Holy Eucharist. He STILL feeds us!
And I, for one, am truly grateful and Amazed!