29 July 2012, Thoughts on Loaves and Fish

July 27, 2012 at 20:30 Leave a comment

In today’s Gospel Story (John 6:1-15) Jesus miraculously feeds the crowd with the available loaves and fish. As impressive as what Jesus did in feeding the people may be, what he did not do is also impressive, as well as indicative and instructive.

He did not impose any restrictions on whom he would feed, or on who could receive the food and nourishment he made available. He did not require anyone to take a test or pass a background check. He did not ask anyone their marital status, sexual orientation, or lifestyle. He simply met the people where they were and helped them take care of their needs. He did this through his disciples who had been with him for some time and were coming to know how he thought and what was important to him.

This Story is indicative because we believe that in Jesus we see the Trinity among us.  If we want to know how God “thinks”, or God’s “value system”, we need only look at how Jesus live and taught. So, the Story gives insight into how God “thinks” about sharing his love with folks. In this Story Jesus simply takes care of the needs of the folks who were right in front of him.

Traditionally the Story is seen as a foreshadowing of Eucharist. Jesus invited everyone present to share in the food he offered. He had his disciples give the food out to the folks, no questions asked. There was quite a bit left over. This suggests that God’s gifts of Godself are superabundant, more than enough for all of us, no questions asked.

Instructive. If any are serious about following Jesus, of being his disciples and learning from him, there is a lot here. If Jesus did not place any restrictions on who could eat the food he was providing, why would any who claim to be his disciples do so? If he did not set up standards that any who would eat the food he provided would have to meet, why would any who claim to be his followers do so? If he did not restrict the folks then to approved marital status or sexual orientation before they could partake of his food, why would any who claim to be his disciples do so? If he did not restrict his disciples to a certain gender or demand they use only approved formulas in serving the folks, why would any who claim to be his followers do so? Either we learn from his example or we don’t.

There seems to be one absolute – God. Everything outside God is relative. Whatever our notion of God might be, it is relative in the sense that we process our sense of God through the particulars of our living experience. Throughout history folks have taken their relative understanding of the absolute God, codified it in some way, and used it as the only standard for anyone who wants to approach God. In their eyes they alone have the correct notion and approach to God, and all others are in error. What begins as an attempt to share with others one’s experience of God becomes for each group a means of controlling others’ access to God. What starts out as a group of people sincerely trying to encourage others to come to their own experience and knowing God themselves becomes a limiting of others’ access to God. The group exists in order to protect its interpretation, and therefore itself, against all who would think in any other way. The group’s ways and traditions are seen as the only possible approach to God, and the group itself becomes, at least in its own eyes, the final arbiter of who can approach God. Defense of, and loyalty to, the group is valued above all things. At times it even replaces entering into a relationship with God. One facet of this mindset is the need to prove to others that “I am more loyal than you are”. Following Jesus has less and less to do with anything. Loyalty to the group is all there is.

Only the group leaders have the truth, which is claimed to be revealed. The role of all others is gratefully to receive this truth, and give over to the leaders their  faculties of thinking, reasoning, etc. Full submission of intellect and will is required to maintain membership in the group, and, therefore, stay on the road to salvation. Failure to do so results in nasty things from the group.

I don’t know where any of this is in the Gospel. I just can’t find it. I really don’t think Jesus did anything like it. I think he loved his Father’s folks too much. But then, that’s my problem.

Just sayin  .  .  .



Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Current Church, Forbidden topics, Gospel thoughts, Priest. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Gospel Thoughts 12 August 2012

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