When Jesus Often Performs Miracles
17th Sunday Ordinary time
July 25, 2021
There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
But what good are these for so many?
Jesus has a knack in the Gospels for getting the disciples into seemingly impossible
situations, and he frequently does so with his followers today. Jesus saw the vast crowds,
and felt sorry for them, so he began to teach them at great length. In fact, he spoke so long
that the people ran out of food. Was this an accident? No, the Lord intended this as a test for
the disciples. In fact, it seems he had deliberately led them into another impossible situation
(John 6:1-15). It is in precisely these types of difficulties, when something is beyond our
abilities, that the miraculous will often occur.
The gospel of the loaves and fishes lays out a number of conditions for a miracle:
Some type of situation has occurred that is seemingly beyond what humans can accomplish on their own.
Jesus has been invited to the situation.
Some faith (even a little bit!) is necessary for divine intervention.
The more impossible it is the more likely it is that the Lord will act.
God makes use of what we have (in this case, a simple basket of loaves and fishes).
Most importantly, we must do our part! We may not have enough on our own, but Christ will still ask us to give what we have.
Many of God’s miracles are hidden ones. Notice that the multiplication of the loaves
and fishes takes place while hidden in baskets that were being passed around. In the same
way, miracles surround us if we have the eyes to see them. I believe we are constantly
helped by the Lord, the angels, the saints and the Holy Spirit, but often in ways we don’t
notice or become aware of only in hindsight. But Jesus often does not make his presence
obvious – in order to increase our faith.
Everything Jesus permits and does in our lives has one end in mind: to get us to
heaven. His miracles always will lead to this end and not just to make us healthy, well-fed, or
happy. Often, it is better for us to remain in suffering until we have learned the lesson that
was necessary. Most importantly, he always respects our human dignity. Even if we have
only a few loaves and fishes to offer, he will accept that small offering and miraculously
multiply our fruitfulness.