Good morning everyone! I have such a treat for you this morning! We have another guest blogger, my brother Andrew. I think you will really get a lot out of his writing and his perspective.
Luke 9:10-17 (NRSV)
10 On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.
12 The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did so and made them all sit down.16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
I have perhaps the coolest job anyone could ask for….. I am a scientist. It may not sound totally awesome, but hear me out. I get to ask bizarre questions and perform crazy experiments to find answers, all with the sole purpose of furthering the knowledge of man (and woman…sister edit :)). It’s like being a grown-up kid, except instead of mixing different types of juice, I alter peoples daily habits and see how hormones in their bodies change. Pretty cool, huh?
But it is not always easy to answer these outlandish questions, as my work is rooted in the reality that I need numbers, observations, and tangible facts in order to draw conclusions to share with the world. Therefore all of my thoughts, actions, and decisions are embedded with this “truth of fact” in mind. Thus it is almost natural that when hearing about many of the miracles in the bible I can be….dare I say…. a bit skeptical at times. Now you can remind me that faith and religion are not about fact, but this is a tough persona for me to shed. So I will do what any scientist (well, maybe not any scientist) would do, and dissect the feeding of 5000 for the real miracle I find using the information at hand (plus, it will also let me put my Jesuit education to use!)
The miracle of the feeding of five thousand, which by the way, is the ONLY miracle told in all four of the synoptic gospels, is the remarkable story about Jesus taking 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and turning it into a meal for all with twelve basketfuls to spare. Upon first reading, the common thought is that the miracle is Jesus somehow magically multiplying the food for all, which would truly be an incredible miracle.
However, if you read closer, I hypothesize that that is not the real miracle at all! Jesus could have very easily sent all these people away without a second thought, but rather he does the extraordinary and feeds them EVERYTHING he has. In demonstrating this unusual act of kindness, a chain reaction is set off throughout the rest of the crowd to do as Jesus has done. They begin to share all of the food that they have with their neighbors (rich, poor, healthy, sick, messiah, man, democrat, republican….. ok, maybe not the last two, but you get my point) and everyone is filled. In fact, this is not a feeding miracle of Jesus multiplying food (which based on science alone would be hard to believe), but rather a miracle of sharing and generosity!
This story demonstrates a very real power that Jesus contains; his influence on people to do good through his action. And isn’t this the way Jesus asks us as Christians to act today? Does he not tell us to give all we have and to love our neighbors? In the world we live, with heated political races, racial disparities, hate crimes because of looks, sexual preference, or whatever religion we follow, shouldn’t this be the banner we stand under as people of God? It wasn’t just the well-to-do feeding one another, it was the mix of all classes and health. And that my friends, is a true miracle with evidence I can get behind!
I draw this conclusion with the facts that I see, but part of my job as a scientist is being proved wrong! Friends, as we move through this Lenten season, find your own miracles with the evidence you need.