Sunday, 31 August 2008

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Last week I spoke of a phenomenon that arose from the experience of failure of expectation. When the authority we trust, be it our parents, our teachers, the Church, concretely the parish, the government, the police etc, fails us, we begin to look for alternative sources of security. And the slogan “Christ, yes; Church, no” is an example of how we deal with a failed authority. In the 20th century, the failure of authority has given rise to a general suspicion towards anything which is “organised”. [1]

Thus, this slogan mentioned above is often expressed as “I am into spirituality but not into religion”. Religion, composed of tenets and practices, belongs to the “organised” world, a world of “authority” which means that it should not be trusted. Today, I would like to do something which is not exactly revolutionary and it deals with the rehabilitation of the word “religion”. It is a word derived from the Latin “religio”. The origin of the word is obscure but it is accepted by some circles that it is derived from “ligare” which means to bind or to connect. Re-ligare would have the meaning to reconnect or realign.

The intent of the 2nd Reading may be read along the lines of “religion”, not so much of “organised” religion but rather of making a re-connexion between what we believe and how we ought to live. Last week, we may read Peter’s confession in the context of him coming to believe in Jesus, whereas this week, we realise that Peter’s confession does not take into consideration the real consequence of believing in Jesus. There seems to be a gap between Peter’s confession and the acceptance of the consequence of his confession.

Before a Catholic or two Catholics get married, we conduct the “pre-nuptial” enquiry. In the case of a marriage between a Catholic and a “non-Catholic” (be he or she a Protestant or of another faith), I tell the Catholic party that there are more “Catholics in hell than there are of people from other religions”. It sounds harsh, considering, but that’s the implication of being a follower of Jesus. Think about it, I am not saying anything more than what we claim ourselves to be. Whether one is aware or not, this is the consequence of Peter’s confession and Jesus’ reply: You are Peter and upon you I will build my Church. We, Catholics believe that we are the Church that Jesus established. Given that belief the higher expectation of us is justified. Isn’t that what Jesus says? The more is given, the more is to be expected. [2] In today’s Gospel, that expectation is called the cross.

For years, I have never bothered about asking people to be Catholics. That’s not because of an exclusivist position, meaning that only Catholics are saved. Rather, it is because of this higher expectation of us that I have thought to myself, “Life is hard, why make it any harder?" So, anyone who has this notion that after baptism, life is going to be bed of roses ought to have the head examined. After baptism, the testing, trials and temptations will come [3]. This paints a rather dismal picture of what it means to be a Catholic or Christian.

The truth is life is NOT hard. It is just that the human spirit is made for the ascent, the climb, which is the so-called hard part. It might seem hard but in fact, the ascent, the difficult, the challenge is the food of the human spirit. We are when we are challenged, tested, and tried. This is why true religion is inherently transcendental because it takes us out of ourselves. On the one hand, there is a fascination with spirituality, but this fascination ties in with the fear of making commitment. [4] This is a fear that we encounter today, even more so with young people—whose idea of freedom is basically “keeping my options” open. Religion on the other hand, is about re-aligning oneself to the will of God and that desire, intention or commitment itself is fraught with the possibility of suffering.

Therefore, take up your cross and follow me is naturally our motto. It cannot be otherwise. When Jesus speaks of his impending suffering, he is not glorifying suffering. Instead, He is telling us that suffering will come when we align ourselves with God; when we live God’s will or do God’s work. Like Jeremiah, we may never know what we are letting ourselves into and at times will like Jeremiah say to God, “You have seduced me and I am now a laughing stock”. But, St Paul calls the cross a “living sacrifice”. Not a once-in-a-life-time sacrifice but a living sacrifice which requires that daily, we surrender our love for security, for an easy life and for whatever that is good, beneficial or advantageous that the world can promise.

Our faith gives us strength but it does not protect us from the pains or hurts of life. But, like I said, the human spirit is made for the arduous ascent. It is at home when the going gets tough [5]. For us who are usually “kiasu” [afraid to be on the losing end], we might want to prepare or shield ourselves for the “tough” days. The point is the “tough” days will come. The only preparation we can make is not in the future but in the here and now through the daily sacrifices in life [6]. The martyrs did not purposely go out and say “Nah, nah, nah nah... make me a martyr”. They were probably afraid like we are. But it’s through the daily sacrifices in life that they are able to step up to it because grace will be given only when it is needed most.

When the big sacrifice comes, God’s grace will meet us there for in the cross, we are carried not by our own strength but by the one on whose shoulder sits the cross of the world.

[1] That’s the underlying assumption of the X-Files TV series.
[2] In a sense, being Catholic does not really confer “better” benefit. It is a great privilege and honour to be counted amongst the followers of Jesus Christ.
[3] Suffering comes not because we deserve it but because following Christ means that his cross will cast its shadow upon us.
[4] In fact, spirituality thrives in such a situation because it can take in experiences which are diverse, inclusive and less dogmatic. When something is less “dogmatic” it requires less “commitment”.
[5] The human spirit thrives not because we glorify suffering but because suffering accepted in Christ at once humanises and divinises us.
[6] Now you know one of the reasons why this church is not air-conditioned. Our discomfort is a reminder of the sacrifices we make in love of and for God.

Monday, 25 August 2008

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

The profession of faith—the Creed—when we celebrate Mass falls into the category of experience which we term “ritualistic”—meaning, it is something which we sometimes recite automatically so much so that we think nothing of it. But the reality is, we stand or fall on the profession of faith.

In the Gospel, in conducting an opinion poll, Jesus seemed to be unsure of himself. The fact was that Jesus’ question was a challenge to faith as it prompted the 12, led by Peter into a profession of faith. In asking about himself, Jesus is asking us about ourselves. In a sense, the question “Who do you say I am?” is at once a question about who Jesus is and who we are—a question which brings us directly into the heart of the Church.

The definition of Church is thus bound inextricably or inseparably to the question that Jesus asked of the 12 and the answer given by them. In this way, one can say that the Church exists in order to answer the question of Jesus: Who do you say I am? And the only answer that the Church can give is simply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Anything less is not the Church.

Only then, does it make sense that Jesus promises to Peter: You are Peter and upon you, I will build my Church and no power of hell can prevail over you. This is an assurance which is accepted by faith but is now challenged. What challenges our faith is the “Church”. If you like, let’s call the challenge or properly the “obstacle” to our faith, the “Institutional Church”.

This obstacle to faith which we term as the institutional Church may be derived from our experiences of powerlessness. How so? A good example is our country. The growing phenomenon of “gated communities” is testimony to the powerlessness of the police force to provide ample security for the citizen. [1] When an institution is empowered to carry out a duty and is powerless to do so, people begin to lose confidence. When people are powerless, they look for alternative sources of security. It is not just a crisis of authority but also a crisis of confidence in authority.

This lack of confidence in authority is in a way transposed to the Church. And it happens on many levels. For example, in the experience of poverty, a form of powerlessness, the Church is seen to be favouring the rich and has no compassion for the poor. It may not be our experience but it seems to be the experience in some Latin American countries. But, what is more damaging to confidence comes from the witness of people in authority—people in power who have betrayed our trust. Was that not one of the reasons for the loss of the 2/3 majority in Parliament by the ruling coalition? Ask yourself what the perception is of the “integrity” of the government? The point is that it does not take much to cross from the integrity of the government to that of the Church. Catholics witnessed the failure of those tasked to take care of the Lord’s vineyard in the horrors of the sex scandals that erupted across some parts of the Church. And we are still paying for that.

When human credibility fails, it does not take much to lose confidence in the institution, more so in an institution like the Church. In our case, this damaging loss of confidence is translated into a lack of confidence in the teaching of the Church; a lack of trust in the governance of the Church; and finally a lack of faith of the Sacraments of the Church—a loss of confidence in the creed, code and the cult. So much so that we now hear people say: I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe in the Church—spirituality is in but religion or organised religion is out.

However, the Gospel shows that this position is inconceivable with the intention of Christ because there is a necessary connexion between Christology and Ecclesiology. Christology is the understanding of who Jesus Christ is and Ecclesiology is the understanding of what the Church is. We cannot have Christ without the Church. Christ set up the Church so that in and through the Church, he continues to shepherd, teach and sanctify. For Christ to be present, the Church must exist. [2]

What I have said may or may not make sense to you. But, it does to me because a crisis of confidence in the Church is ultimately a crisis not of the Church but about the promise of Christ. Since there is this link between Christ and the Church, the question is, can Christ be present in a structure so peopled by sin? Looking at the “apostolic succession”, looking at the bishop surrounded by his priests, do you believe in the promise of Christ to be with us?

I am standing here on the promise of Christ himself. Christ is with us not because of who we are or what we are capable of but because of who He is—God with us and God for us. In a sense this gospel is relevant to people who are disappointed or angry with the Church, people who believe that any church is the same or people who are on the fence. It is a challenge to faith in Christ. Despite the failure of witnessing in the Church—and you see weaknesses always in the Church—one soldiers on because of the promise of Christ—God with us. When we experience failure, we criticise. Check this out in your own experience. Your husband fails you and you criticise... your wife, your children etc. Criticism that is constructive is important but what is equally important is also to pray for those who fail, particularly those who fail in shouldering the responsibility of their office.

In conclusion, I love the Church because She is the Bride of Christ, the promise of Christ to be with us. Despite the imperfection of the members of Christ’s Body, the Church remains to be the womb and the freedom where I can live out Christ’s question to me: “Who do you say I am?” [3] This is important because in a world buffeted by the winds of relativism, “You are the Christ” is the Church’s resounding answer, the Church’s unequivocal identity. Anything less (than “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Saviour of the World) is not the Church.

[1] In a sense, the acceptance of gated communities is capitulation to our powerlessness, a retreat from civil society and a return to the “wild, wild west”. The implication may not be fully realised as we celebrate the security of being in a “gated” community. Even in the most “civilised” societies, there is such a thing as gated community living. But that’s not a sign of failure or retreat from civil society but could be a testimony to “paranoia” or just the insecure need to be a class above others.
[2] Between the Son of God-made-flesh and his Church there is a profound, unbreakable and mysterious continuity by which Christ is present continuously in and to his people. He is always with us; always with the Church, built on the foundation of the Apostles and alive in the succession of the Apostles.
[3] Where Christ is the Church must also be. “Who am I?” is really a question about “Who we are”. The first words of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium) give us a clue: “Christ is the light of all nations”. It means that the Church, the question who we are is answered by talking about Christ, not about ourselves, not about “who we are”.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

As the world shrinks, we hear terms associated with this phenomenon like “Melting Pot”, “Global Village” or “Clash of Civilisations” bandied about as if these experiences were something new. The encounter of Jesus is proof that “cultural or religious” differences are not something new. Even then, they were already possible sources of conflict. In fact, quite soon after Pentecost, the Council of Jerusalem [the 1st Ecumenical Council] was called to resolve the question of admission of the Gentiles into the Christian community. In today’s Gospel, Jesus ventured into foreign territory and was confronted by the unfamiliar. This encounter has universal significance because it touches on the topic of inclusion—a topic which is not unfamiliar with our experience. Who is to be included and who is to be excluded. Is salvation restricted by blood-line? What qualifies for “inclusion” or salvation?

We know that Matthew’s Gospel was written for a Jewish audience. This meant that the interactions of Jesus with “outsiders” would be under closer scrutiny. Why? Because the Jews were somewhat jealous of their special status as a people of God and they viewed salvation in a more restricted way. But, through Jesus’ action, Matthew showed the Jews that the mission of Jesus to save was really a universal one. In this way, the encounter with the Canaanite woman was logical simply because before withdrawing to the region of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus had conflicted with the Pharisees on matters of dietary cleanliness. Dietary restrictions, something akin to the “halal or non-halal” labels, are a way of dividing people into “you are in and you are out”. The healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter is one way of saying that even “dogs could eat off the crumbs of their master’s table”. In short, the action of Jesus tells us that no one is excluded from the kingdom of heaven. In this encounter with Jesus, the Canaanite woman effectively shifted the goal post of salvation (or inclusion) from being a Jew to anyone who has faith.

Anyone who has faith can eat at the table. Faith and not blood-line, not skin colour, not special “race” status, is the divide which places a person here and not there.

Thus, the faith of the Canaanite woman may have a thing or two to instruct us. Our experience of faith is somehow restricted to asking, demanding and expecting God to bend to our will. But, the Canaanite woman showed us that faith was perseverance; faith was persistence. She was rebuffed by Jesus not once but thrice. First, she came to beg from him but he replied her not. Then again, she begged and he answered, “I was sent to the lost of the House of Israel". Undeterred, she begged the third time but Jesus replied: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs”.

At this point, one should have been totally turned off but she interpreted the rejection as a test from Jesus and proceeded to answer with calculated calmness that she should be allowed to enjoy the scraps from the table. In a sense, she showed that faith was hard work.

Today, the working of our mind is logical and it follows a rather simple linear trajectory. This simplicity is a by-product of a scientific technological rationality. You heat water at sea-level, it will boil at 100ºC and be converted into steam. In that way, we bring that mentality into our prayers and our expectations of God. Is it any wonder if our relationship with God is often construed along the line of a slot machine? I pray so you give just like I slot a coin into the vending machine and logically out comes a can of Coke.

This could explain why we give up on God especially on a silent God. We interpret a silent God as one who is uncaring, uninvolved and distant. As a result, we turn to Bomohs [Shamans or Witch-doctors]. We turn to some “charismatic” leaders who seem to be able to break through the wall of God’s silence. If not, we resent God and “punish” God by giving in to “destructive” addictions like gambling, excessive drinking or pornography etc.

The Canaanite woman’s perseverance teaches us that a silent God is perhaps one whose silence is an invitation to ask again. A silent God purifies our faith. A silent God strengthens our faith. A silent God may even make our faith heroic. Whenever prayers are not answered, I am reminded of this scratching on the wall in a concentration camp: I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God even when He is silent.

Some of us may be like the Canaanite woman. We have loved ones who are sick. Or even we ourselves may be ill with a life-threatening sickness. No one here can say that they have never known anyone who had died of cancer. Especially in cancers, we pray and God doesn’t seem to answer. I have come to believe that sometimes God does not answer our prayers not because our faith is weak or we haven’t done enough. On the contrary, God’s silence may be because He knows that our faith is strong, that He gives us what He knows we can carry.

You may ask how I have come to the conclusion that when God does not answer, it is not because our faith is weak or we haven’t done enough. First, I am 47 and I have a mother who’s been sick since I was 7. After praying for so long and hoping that as she ages, she would get better, au contraire, she has become worse. I can say, “OK, never mind. Life sucks and you can’t win all the time”. But, my elder brother has a daughter born with a congenital problem. She underwent an operation at 11 to repair her 2-chambered heart and ended up brain-damaged. “How much more wrong can things get”? Finally, my younger brother is a practising Catholic and a good man but his 2nd child is “slow”. He and his wife are struggling to come to terms with the reality.

One of my brothers asked this question once: Has our family been cursed by God? I thought long and hard and have come to the conclusion that our “misfortunes” have been God’s blessings for He has reckoned us strong enough to stand in the company of the Suffering Christ. I am not proud that I have come to this conclusion because it does mean that discipleship is so much harder, that I am resigned in a fatalistic way to suffering. And I do know of people who are suffering or in trouble. My attitude comes across as if I were uncaring.

Yet, sicknesses, misfortunes or setbacks are always invitations to deeper faith. In a sense, I am not happy but I am not unhappy about it. There’s a big difference between these two states that is liberating because it gives space for faith to grow and work—faith to accept that what cannot be put right, what is wrong, in this world will in Christ be made right in the life to come. The Canaanite woman challenges us who are privileged by baptism to deepen our faith in God beyond just asking, expecting and demanding. Faith means completely allowing God to take control of every aspect of our lives.

Friday, 15 August 2008

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year A

It’s a day of obligation and it’s also time to meet people who don’t regularly attend mass. Some Catholics have a narrow understanding of “days of obligation” not realising that every Sunday is also a day of obligation. And, it is often on these “off-Sunday” days of obligation that people come around—like Ascension, today Assumption, All Saints and Christmas. To some people, a larger than usual crowd on these days is a sad commentary of the practice of some Catholics who do not seem to realise the importance of Sunday Mass. But, you know, I think of this phenomenon of a larger crowd on such days of obligation as an expression of “Catholicity” at its best. Why? It is proof that Holy Mother Church is big enough to accommodate the differing degrees of affiliation people have with her. It is like, “Once a Catholic always a Catholic, even if one were a lapsed Catholic”. So in the context of a broader and wider sense of “Catholicity”, I will try to explain (1) why we celebrate the Assumption of Mary and (2) come to appreciate better the meaning of a day of obligation.

Firstly, the official teaching on Mary’s Assumption is very recent. It is as recent as 1950. The Pope declared infallibly that “when the course of her earthly life was finished Mary was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven”. But, the commemoration of the Solemnity itself dates back to the 6th Century. In fact, the Orthodox Churches celebrate it as the Dormition—the Sleeping of Mary. Essentially, Mary, the “Theotokos”, the Bearer of Christ who was conceived without Original Sin would undergo a process of death which would be different from those who have been afflicted by Original Sin. Mary after her earthly life entered heaven without the “pains or struggles” associated with death.

Secondly, the term “body and soul” reminds us of Christ in the Eucharist. When we receive Holy Communion, we do not just receive a “piece of Christ” but the whole of Christ. Mary’s Assumption is therefore a reminder that we are not just some kind of entrapped spirits in bodies. Such a philosophy of “entrapped spirits in bodies” has far-reaching consequences. An example of this would be the disregard of the physical world. When we disregard the physical world, redemption or salvation would no longer be “of” the world [matter] but would rather be an “escape” from the world. Thus, Mary’s Assumption into heaven makes it clear to us that “creation” (meaning the world) is central to the idea of Christ’s redemption or salvation. In fact, St Paul in Romans 8:22, speaks of creation (or world) as groaning as it waits for salvation. It follows that if the world or matter is not something to be forsaken but because it has been “saved” or “redeemed” by Christ, it makes sense that the body is treated with great respect when someone has died. We do come across this fanciful idea that after cremation, the ashes can be scattered in the open. Behind this “scattering” hides this sense of “freedom” from the constraints of the world. Well, redemption does not begin when we leave the body, it begins with the body. In fact, an understanding of creation and redemption which is detached from the concern over the physical world has led to the environmental disasters that we are experiencing now.

Thirdly, teaching on Mary’s Assumption is described as infallible. We hear of “Papal Infallibility” but, how did the Pope arrive at this teaching? He actually contacted bishops throughout the world and also consulted theologians to ask if “the Assumption” was sort of believed in by the local Catholic communities. In short, he checked with the “sensus fidelium”—the sense of the faithful. Sensus fidelium is defined as the sensitivity and capacity of all the faithful to appreciate and discern the practical meaning that revelation and the Christian faith has in contemporary world. Sensus fidelium is possible because through baptism we share in the gifts and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Fourthly, as you can see, the exercise of Papal Infallibility was not an exercise of arbitrariness. Instead, the Pope after consultation and with good purpose declared this about 5 years after the end of yet another great war. The 50 years preceding 1950 witnessed amongst other things, the genocide of the Armenians, the death of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis and the start of what we know now as the Nuclear Age. In the midst of the desecration of human bodies, the Pope intended the celebration of the Assumption of Mary to make clear the sacredness and the high destiny of every single human person.

Fifthly, we can say that the Assumption is really an “Iconic” celebration because Mary can be called the “representative” of the Church—the icon of who we are. Listen to what the Preface of the Assumption says, “Today the Virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection and a sign of hope and comfort for your people on their pilgrim way”. In fact, the Preface of the Ascension says: Christ, the mediator between God and man, judge of the world and Lord of all, has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope. Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church; where he has gone, we hope to follow. So, where Christ is, there the Church will be; where Christ is, there Mary will be and where Christ is; there we will be if we follow him. Assumption is a reminder of our heavenly destiny.

In summary, Assumption may be a day of obligation but perhaps we may better understand that “obligation” is really a sad commentary of how poorly we have received and internalised the salvation that Christ won for us. Maybe, as we come to share Mary’s triumphant entry into the glory of Christ, we may begin to re-engage our faith in a way which sees us moving away from “have to” to “want to”, a conversion from obligation to love.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Quick Note

The Jesuit was away on an 8-day annual retreat and the World Youth Day. He is now back and it's business as usual at Homilies of a Jesuit.

Monday, 4 August 2008

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

There are different ways of looking at the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. One way is to take a reductionist view which simply downplays the “miraculous” by saying that what was really miraculous was that the people shared their food with each other. If you think about it, this approach actually makes Christ out to be someone quite ordinary who happened to be rather convincing. He was, if you like, a very good organiser.

The other approach is to highlight the symbolic nature of the act of Christ. The numbers sort of proved it: 5 loaves, 2 fish and 12 baskets full... Again this approach tries to get away from confronting or facing up to the reality of Who Jesus was and what really took place. If it were just or merely symbolic then how can one explain the 6 different accounts of this one event because the account is presented twice in both Matthew and Mark and once each in Luke and John. Symbols are fine but they must be somehow connected to an actual event. And so what can this event called the multiplication of the loaves say to us?

To answer the question, we must set the miracle within the larger context of who Jesus really is and who we really are. First point, John the Baptist is mentioned rather casually as in “When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death He withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves”. The short sentence doesn’t say much but John actually died in the context of a “banquet”. It was at this banquet where Herod became so besotted or captivated by, depending on how you see it, his niece or step-daughter’s beauty that he promised anything she would ask for. She asked for the head of John the Baptist. The banquet of Herod resulted in death. Death from planning, scheming and conniving.

On the contrary, there by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, we have another banquet. This banquet recalls the experience of the Jews in the Desert where God provided for their hunger through manna. Here Jesus becomes the new Moses who fed the hungry in the desert. Not only were they fed but they all had more than enough. The banquet of Jesus led to life. The contrast between the two banquets cannot be greater.

Second point: We are constantly directed to Christ as the first reading reminds us that it is Christ alone who gives life. “Come to the water all you who are thirsty, though you have no money, come”. The miracle of the multiplication speaks of Christ’s boundless love for us. And not only is His love boundless. It is the only love which satisfies. “Why spend money on what fails to satisfy”? The abundance is an invitation to trust Him completely.

The second reading offers further proof or rather encouragement in this area of trust because “nothing can come between us and the love of Christ: not troubles, not worries, not even persecutions, not hunger or anything. Nothing can come between the love of God in Christ Jesus and us”.

Earlier, I said the multiplication of the loaves was set in the larger context of who Christ really is and who we really are. Who is Jesus Christ really? The answer is He alone satisfies. At the Final Mass of the recent World Youth Day, Pope Benedict said,

“In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning – the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity’s sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life”.

What has this quote from Benedict XVI to do with the multiplication of loaves? Christ’s satisfaction of the hungry is prelude to the satisfaction of their heavenly hunger. Therefore, it is an invitation to come to Christ. Secondly, only Christ can satisfy our inmost longings. And thirdly it is about who we really are. We are made for the love of Christ and therefore, the multiplication of the loaves is a miracle which invites us to faith.

Faith is also a choice we need to make. Cardinal Pell in the homily of the Welcoming Mass at the WYD spoke to young people and he said:

“Don’t spend your life sitting on the fence, keeping your options open, because only commitments bring fulfilment. Happiness comes from meeting our obligations, doing our duty, especially in small matters and regularly, so we can rise to meet the harder challenges. Many have found their life’s calling at World Youth Days”.

Therefore, for us to grow in faith, it means that we must choose. If we don’t, we lapse into nothingness. When we dare not choose, we may exist but we are not alive.

In conclusion, the multiplication of the loaves is more than symbolic because it shows two things. First, it shows who Christ really is. Second, it shows that in being fed and satisfied, we are revealed to be who we really are and thus are challenged to make an act of faith, a choice for Christ to commit ourselves fully to Him and thereby be fully satisfied in Him and by Him alone.