“WHY NOT ALWAYS?” (Mt 15:29-37): 05 December 2007 (Wednesday)
That’s a lot of miracles Jesus performed in today’s gospel reading: healing of the sick and feeding of the hungry–all in a day’s work! I don’t know about you, but when I read something like that and I watch CNN or BBC or scan the morning papers and learn about all the suffering and hungry people in our world today, I can’t help but turn to the Lord and ask: “These miracles that you can do–why not perform them habitually? Why only occasionally? Why not always?”
God knows–and he literally does!–how much our world desperately needs miracles! Despite modern technology, we still have millions of people suffering and dying of incurable illnesses. And despite the abundance of food in certain places in the world, millions of children still die each day from hunger.
When I read about these miracles of healing and multiplication of loaves and fish, I can’t help but wonder why the Lord doesn’t perform more of them today. Why indeed do his miracles have to be the exception rather than the rule?
There must be a good reason why God insists that we follow the laws of nature, and why he allows the pain and death that seem to be inevitable consequences of these laws. The philosophers and theologians can come up with their intellectual discourses, but when I see the the devastated bodies of the sick and the emaciated faces of starving children, I just don’t get it! I know God is all-good and all-powerful, so what gives?
When I was a kid, I was told that when Job, that innocent man of the Old Testament, was stricken with unimaginable suffering, he piously intoned, “The Lord has given, and he has taken away!” But later I found out that he said that only in the beginning. For the rest of the book (in fact, most of it!), Job complained and demanded an explanation from God for his inexplicable suffering. Unfortunately, God didn’t give him any explanation–and to this day, as far as I know, God hasn’t to anyone.
But what the Lord does is give us some kind of prescription–one that I suppose he thinks we can follow even without understanding. We find this prescription in the feeding of the crowd. The disciples ask him, “Where do we get the food to feed this crowd?” And the Lord responds with a question, “What do you have?” And the Lord takes what the disciples have–seven loaves, we’re told, and a few fish–and uses them to miraculously feed everybody.
In response to our questions and complaints about the sufferings and hunger of the world, the Lord invites us to share whatever we have, and to believe that he will use what we have–no matter how little, no matter how limited–to perform his much longed-for miracles.
So I guess the question we can ask ourselves today is: Can we share the little that we have to heal and feed the world? And if we can, his question to us will probably be the same question we had for him: Why not do it habitually? Why not always?