An Eastern proverb says that «when the finger of the prophet points to the moon, the fool keeps looking at the finger». Something similar can be said about us when we stay exclusively in the wondrous character of Jesus’ miracles, without reaching toward the message they enclose.
Because Jesus wasn’t a miracle-worker dedicated to realize propagandistic wonders. His miracles are more so signs that break through into this world of sin and point right now toward a new reality, the final goal of the human being.
Concretely the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves invites us to discover that Jesus’ project is to feed people and reunite them in a real fraternity in which they know how to share «their bread and their fish» as brothers and sisters.
For the Christian, fraternity isn’t one demand next to others. It’s the only way of constructing the Father’s reign among people. This fraternity can be wrongly understood. All too often we confuse it with «a living selfishness that knows how to carry itself very decently» (Karl Rahner).
We think that we love our neighbor simply because we don’t do anything especially bad toward him, though later on we go about with a stingy and selfish outlook, unconcerned about all the rest, motivated only by our own interests.
The Church, as far as «sacrament of fraternity», is called to push at each moment of history toward new forms of intimate fraternity among people. We believers must learn to live with a more fraternal style, listening to the new needs of people today.
The struggle for disarmament, the protection of the environment, solidarity with hungry nations, the sharing of the consequences of the economic crisis with the unemployed, help for drug addicts, concern for isolated and forgotten senior citizens… are as much again demands for someone who feels oneself as brother or sister and wants “to multiply” for all people the bread that all of us need to live.
The Gospel story reminds us that we can’t eat our bread and fish tranquilly while next door to us are men and women threatened by so much «hunger». Those of us who go about tranquil and satisfied need to hear Jesus’ words: «Give them yourselves something to eat».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf