Another beautiful blog post from Father Longenecker, talking about the banalisation of the miracle of the feeding of the Five Thousand.
Even if I have never personally heard anyone trying to banalise the miracle in such a way, I remember reading something similar. In my case too, my reaction was of disgust at people who have lost their faith to the point of not believing in Christ’s miracles anymore, but want to teach the faith to others.
To want to explain away Jesus’ miracles is a clear sign of lack of faith. Jesus’ miracles are the direct consequence of his Divinity. Without the miracles, you can’t justify his claim of being the Messiah, nor his further claim of being God, nor his claim that he would take away our sins by dying for us, nor his claim that He would come to us in the miracle of the Eucharist. Without Jesus’ miracles there can simply be no Christianity.
The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand has, in my eyes, another very important significance that is often lost today: the Jews had to learn by heart, already during childhood, a long list of attributes of God. This was in order to avoid being accused of blasphemy once – after the bar/bat Mitzvah – they were considered old enough to willingly blaspheme. Among the many attributes of God where the fact that God alone can create food (not in the sense of processing or cooking of course, but in the sense that God creates the Earth and the animals that produce it). By miraculously creating bread out of sheer nothing, Jesus already sends the message that He is God. We modern Westerners may have lost, in a sense, this direct correlation between creating food and divinity: to us, Jesus is God, therefore He could perform miracles. But to a Jew reading Matthew’s Gospel in the first century AD, and who had the long list of God’s attributes learned by heart, the meaning of the feeding of the five thousands must have caused the contrary logical process: this man can create food, therefore he can only be God. Matthew’s Gospel is full of such references, that to a Jewish reader immediately say: this is God. God only can give life, therefore Lazarus’ resurrection directly points out to Jesus’ divinity; God only can take away (without violence, of course) life, therefore the “killing” of the fig tree directly points out to Jesus’ divinity, and so on.
All this is lost on modern liberals. They don’t believe in anything else than their own liberal ideology, and must therefore explain away Jesus’ divinity. They do it because when they have done so, they will be able to explain away everything else they don’t like. They will tell you, for example, that Sodom was destroyed because its inhabitants weren’t “hospitable” (or was it “vegetarian”; I never can remember which); that Jesus talked very, very harshly about Sodom because, well, no one knows anymore at this point; that he would, say, only have male apostles in order not to hurt the Jewish sensibilities. The list goes on and can become very long, I remember the sermon of the Canadian Anglican/Episcopalian claiming that Jesus overcomes his own racial prejudice by dealing with the Syrophoenician woman.
It really doesn’t get more blasphemous, or stupid, than that.
To attack Jesus’ miracles is to attack Jesus. It’s as simple as that.