The Twue Miwacwe of the Woaves and Fishes was Cawing and Shawing

This year it was Rod Dreher’s turn to endure that perennial favorite homily of aging Woodstock priests explaining “Jesus didn’t really multiply loaves and fishes, he was just such a splendid voice of social justice that the people turned, gazed longingly into one another’s eyes, said ‘I affirm you in your okayness’ and began to share the loaves and fishes they had carefully packed in abundance as they bolted off to follow Jesus on a completely unplanned trek into the boondocks.”

My wife, who spent her childhood being stuffed to the gills with food every time she walked into Mrs. Moss’ house (a not infrequent occurrence) leaned over to me during the xerox copy of Dreher’s homily *we* had to endure a couple of years ago and said, “Does father really mean to suggest that it is a miracle to get Jewish people to share a sandwich?” It’s a good question.

It’s an even better question why gospel writers in an ancient Near Eastern culture would be so stunned at the thought of observing the rudiments of hospitality that it would be worthy of mention in all four gospels (it is the only miracle of Christ, besides the Resurrection, that is mentioned in all four).

Of course, lesser breeds without the PhD in biblical studies have long suspected that this may be because Jesus miraculously multiplied loaves and fishes just as Elijah miraculously multiplied the flour and oil, and that it is blindingly obvious that the gospel writers see quite a bit more going on here than a sort of Capraesque moment of communitarian caring and sharing. Some might even note that since this miracle is obviously seen by the Evangelists as a sign of the Eucharist, which is God’s miraculous provision for us, and that reading it as a sign of our “aren’t we fabulous” self-sufficiency is a catastrophically dumb misreading directly opposed to the actual sense of the text. But lacking PhDs, such lesser breeds are not to be trusted, of course.

Note to aging Woodstock priests: Think it possible you may be wrong.


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