Friday, April 20, 2012

Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong

“Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Saint Augustine

Gospel text (Jn 6,1-15):
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?"
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
"Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little."
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?"
Jesus said, "Have the people recline."
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
"Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted."
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
"This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Today’s gospel is one of the several “multiplication” stories found in the four accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Each one of them reminds us of the abundance of God’s love for us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus invited one of the disciples, Philip, to consider the whole event, “where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” It can’t be done, Philip answers! Then Jesus moves into action.

In miracle stories like this and in our everyday life, Jesus plans to test us. He will present us with humanly impossible situations (see Jn 6:5) to see whether we will walk by faith or by sight (2 Cor 5:7). He will test us to see whether we will judge by God's standards or by men's (1 Sm 16:7; Mt 16:23). We may even be tested by persecution.

Let us meditate for a moment on and pray about the following quotation from the Roman Catechism: "Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason has grasped the idea of God's almighty power, it will easily and without any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose for us to believe — even if they be great and marvelous things, far above the ordinary laws of nature" (Catechism, 274).

Our temptation is, like Phillip, to be jostled around by the problem and not to move towards its solution. We pass our “tests” not only by God's grace at the moment of testing, but also by God's graces, received hours, days, and years before the tests. Let us not wait. He can give us more than we could ever imagine; all we need to do is trust.

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