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God Became Man But He Can't Multiply Fish

Yeah sure, God become man. And He definitely rose from the dead. But there's no way he multiplied loaves and fishes for people to eat.

That's the logic of so many when they deny the physical nature of the miracle of loaves and fishes from yesterday's Gospel. What is the problem some people have with this miracle?

I've heard it argued (even from the pulpit) that this was not a physical miracle but a spiritual one in that the people were so moved by Jesus' words that they shared. Come on, if it was just about sharing, do they really believe all four gospel writers would've mentioned the story.

Case in point. I read this today from the Arkansas Catholic:

Did Jesus really create miracle of multiplying loaves, fishes?
Q. We heard at Sunday Mass the Gospel (from Matthew) on the miracle of the loaves and fish. Our priest said the miracle was a spiritual one, in which everyone shared what they had and everyone ate. He never stated that it was indeed a physical miracle of multiplying the bread and fish, as I was led to believe in reading the Bible. Which is true? (Seeds of Faith, Question Corner)
At it's heart, isn't questioning this physical miracle questioning Jesus himself. Why can you believe that God created the heavens, man, earth, fish, the stars but have a problem believing He multiplied loaves and fishes?

Never mind the implications that particular gospel has on the Eucharist. Is it an overall problem with the miraculous. I mean, perhaps it's easier for some to believe in the huge miracle of creation than in the more "mundane" miracles of water into wine and multiplying loaves and fishes. Don't know why though.

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Subvet said...

Never mind the multiplying of the loaves & fishes. The real miracle came when a boy was persuaded to give up his lunch! How come we never hear about the miraculous act inherent in THAT??

William said...

This is truly at the heart of most Protestantism, as it bugs them to get carried away with that "Sacramental" reality. So perhaps it’s ironic that they struggle the most with the Sacramental miracles of bread and wine?

Anonymous said...

William - true enough. But the point of contention here is apparently this came from a "Catholic" PRIEST. It is truly sad (though not at all surprising) that a priest would explain this event away as a non-miracle. The next step is to say, "it's not REALLY the body of Christ, but this is a symbolic meal" to then, "the church isn't REALLY infallible, it's more important what you feel...now listen to ME instead so I can tell you how you should be feeling".

Sarah L said...

That was hilarious.
And thanks to CMR for this post. Our parish priest never tried to explain away the miracle as a merely spiritual marvel. I'm grateful for that.

Brian Walden said...

So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves
that had been more than they could eat.

John's Gospel explicitly says that the fragments came from the five barley loaves. If they came from everyone bringing their own food wouldn't there be differences in the leftovers - some people would pack turkey sandwiches, some people PBJ, etc.

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.

I've never seen a crowd want to carry someone off and anoint him king because he got them to share food. Head of the parish potluck dinner committee maybe, but not king.

If you go by scripture the only way you can come to the conclusion that this was simply a miracle of sharing is to think yourself smarter than the inspired authors of the Gospels.

RMT said...

I've heard this one a few times--what I think is funny is that they claim that everyone was carrying these bread and fish sandwiches with them, but cannot explain why they were hungry in the first place, since they supposedly had supper with them.

aquinasadmirer said...

In addition to the other good points above, this interpretation is a bit anti-Semitic. It implies that Jews sharing is miraculous.

Also, Fr. Mitch Pacwa talked about this recently as well. It is in direct contradiction with current Middle Eastern culture, where people are known to be generous with their food.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Most of the priests I've known who talk about "The miracle of sharing" or "Jesus as Stone Soup" have been educated at CTU in Chicago...

Maybe there's one bad professor poisoning the lot?

Catholicity said...

Denial of the miraculous is nothing but Modernism. It is a heresy, and by extension, it leaves a question in the minds of hearers whether the priest proposing the explanation is or is not an heretic.

Andrea said...

Yeah...I'll never forget when a parish priest we had stated that it was all the moms who had snacks for their kids shared their food with everyone. Putting that into context, I don't think that the small supply of cheerios that I keep in the depths of my purse would satisfy a small child, much less a large crowd of men, women, and children.
Plus, doesn't the Bible say that ONE boy had the loaves and the fishes? I think that makes it fairly clear about where the food originated from!

Anonymous said...

We had an associate pastor who told us that story and then years later a new priest was visiting and God bless him, he did apologetics on this reading. He stated that when people say everyone shared that it's isigesis (sp?)--reading something into the text that is not there, instead of exegesis--focusing on the text.

SherryTex said...

I love the modern...what the Gospel really means when it says what it says....but maybe it's just that people aren't that in to eating fish and bread...maybe fish and chips...

Maurisa said...

As an aside, they (the miracle doubters) are also overlooking the pre-figured miracle from the Old Testament reading:

"A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God,
twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits,
and fresh grain in the ear.
Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.”
But his servant objected,
“How can I set this before a hundred people?”
Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.”
“For thus says the LORD,
'They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’”
And when they had eaten, there was some left over,
as the LORD had said."

Or is this once again only a spiritual miracle? Honestly, it takes a bigger leap of "faith" to call this a spiritual miracle than a truly physical miracle. Where do they get this garbage?

Steven P. Cornett said...

This one bugs me too.

The more I think about it, the more I think that the real problem people seem to have with it is that the loaves and the fishes are the one act (other than the Resurrection) that only God can do. That is, at some level they have a problem with creation ex nihilo.

It's almost as if God is not allowed to create in His anything more in His own creation or something.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Maybe you've heard this one before....

"If you tell a man that stars are distant suns, he'll believe you; if you tell him that the paint is wet, he'll have to touch it himself."

Creation is a long, long ways away. But everyone eats, and has leftovers.

Richard said...

On Sunday, in his homily, our pastor noted that the boy who had the fish and bread gave all that he had. The pastor then noted the similarity between the boy and our young altar boys, who come with nothing but their service, and also give all that they have. I thought that was well put, and inspiring.

Kevin said...

See Steve Ray at CatholicConvert.com

Anonymous said...

As someone who regularly gets the Arkansas Catholic, at least the author of the response, Father John Dietzen, dispels this nonsense and highlights that this is the result of a strand of "rationalistic" philosophy that denied the historical authenticity of the Gospel miracles, beginning about 200 years ago. (quote marks around rationalistic are in his original) Some of the good quotes from his response:

"[T]he contention that miracles are simply impossible and therefore could not have happened is a circular argument based on nothing but a secularist, possibly atheistic, vision of reality."

"[W]riting off His miracles as frauds, or as misunderstandings of an easily deluded crowd, or as products of later Christian imagination simply is not reasonable."

"There is no objective evidence to lead to such a conclusion and a great deal of evidence today for the authenticity of those works of Our Lord."

Brendan said...

The parish I went to for this Sunday's Mass had a new pastor. This was his second week. Since during his first Mass he mentioned how he went to Anglican services when he studied in Oxford because he thought the music and sermons were better than Catholic ones, I was rather scared to attend this Mass, knowing what the Gospel story was.

Sure enough, the priest tried explaining away the miracle. He actually implied that those who thought it was really a miracle from Jesus were stupid because "do you really think that no one else brought any food?"

Rick said...

It's like explaining the crossing of the Sea of Reeds when the tide was low. I wonder how they'll explain away the Resurrection.

kc said...

This reminds me of the whole effort to explain Fatima as "group psychosis" or some kind of "mob mentality." never mind that people far from the miracle saw it, too. That's inconvenient.

It's really no problem to see jesus as "son of God" or "incarnate" as long as that means his words can be interpreted to "do random acts of kindness and send positive thoughts."

But the miraculous... that hinges on starting to see God outside of human parameters, and that is not comfortable.

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