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BREAD AND OTHER MYSTERIES

Many years ago, well, okay… many, many years ago when I was young I visited a Synagogue with other students in our class. The Rabbi was a fascinating and very engaging person. He said one thing, though, that troubled me a bit. He said, “Ya know, under the sea of Galilee there is a break-water wall, and at certain times it’s just below the water, and at other times it is visible.” The implication of course, was that Jesus didn’t really walk on water; he walked on a wall that was just under the water.
Well, I got to thinking about the entire story. You see, in the version of the story that I have read, Peter tries to walk on water as well, and proceeds out of the boat, stepping towards Jesus, and at some point, of course, he falls in. It occurred to me that this was very strange indeed. You see, between the two of them, Peter was the fisherman who lived his life and made his money out on the Sea of Galilee. His father before him was probably a fisherman. Jesus was not a fisherman by trade. He was a carpenter. He made his living on land. So the question is, “How is it that the fisherman didn’t know that the break-water wall was there, but the carpenter did?” An even more important question is, “How is it that this fisherman avoided wrecking his boat against that wall that sat just below the surface of the sea, considering that he didn’t know it was there?” In short, the rabbi’s view, or intimation that Jesus didn’t actually walk on water, is not really sensible. It may be true that there is a breakwater wall. There may be many, but Peter would have known more about its location than Jesus.

There are many attempts by people to explain away miracles. Some of these attempts are by the very people who profess to teach us the scriptures, people within our own religions. A couple of weeks ago, at the Church service which I partook in, the gospel being read was the one where Jesus fed multitudes with a few loaves and fishes. The deacon proceeded to present, as though it were a novel and fresh idea, that it was possibly not really a miracle wherein Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes, but, no: it was really a miracle of the heart where the multitudes began pitching in their own surplus of loaves and fishes that they had brought along. After all, isn’t the miracle of the softened heart, the greedy heart made generous a far greater miracle than simply multiplying loaves and fishes?

Priests, deacons and others must have a book they go to called, ‘Used Sermons’. The fact that they present these sermons as though it is the fresh new revelation from God that they were just endowed with that very morning is even more troubling.

About fifteen years ago there was an interesting discovery made in the area of genetics. It was discovered that the DNA of yeast, though much simpler than that of humans, has a startling similarity to the DNA of humans in many respects. I don’t remember who did the study, but the thought of it has stayed with me, and when I think of Jesus words, “I am the bread of life,” it has even more depth and mystery for me. I must conclude that his miracle of salvation, the shed blood that somehow not only saves us, but is capable of transforming us even as we walk the earth, is a far greater miracle than any, and is even greater than any miracle of the heart, because all other miracles are made possible by this one miracle. This is the miracle that is, in fact, shared with us in the breaking of the bread, when he fed the five thousand, and again when he fed the four thousand, and again at the last supper, and again, after the resurrection on the road to Emmaus, and again when Saint Paul shares the message to break the bread, and again and again, over and over, he multiplies himself for us. There is no greater miracle.
In fact, after Jesus performed the miracle, the crowds who followed him sought him out, and he said to them, “You seek me not because you saw miracles, you seek me because you did eat of the loaves and were filled… the bread of God is he who has come down from heaven.” I don’t recall anyone saying to him, “Well, no Lord, actually, it really wasn’t you who fed us, you see, Isaac here brought a little satchel of loaves and fishes, and so did Joseph, and well, we just started sharing…” Didn’t anyone bring potatoes or wine? How come when the baskets were gathered up with the left-overs, there wasn’t a surprising collection of barley, knishes, figs and salt beef?

The miracle of walking on the waters occurs shortly after Jesus feeds the five – thousand. Is it any surprise that a being so buoyed up with the Holy Spirit of God, a being who is the living bread moving above the waves can multiply loaves that he has blessed and broken? I suspect that on that day, any loaf of bread within 100 feet of Jesus was in danger of bursting into many loaves.

Copyright August 14th 2011 by John P. Schumake


 




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