Of loaves and fishes


I was born and raised in a southern Minnesota community. My wife and I attended twelve years of Catholic parochial education. In those grade school years, as they were known then, we queued up with our classes and trotted across the street to daily mass, five days a week. In the Lenten season it was Friday afternoon Stations of the Cross. And there, with the church window transoms open, a boy could smell the earth of spring and his mind would wander from devotion to play.

We got a full dose of ecumenism back then in the sixties. By the time my younger sister and brother traipsed those same hallways most of the nuns were retired and gone. Theirs was a more laic education. In High School a man by the name of Buber left his thoughts in my mind. All that exposure to religion and dialogue left a mark on me.

This last December a college friend, who remains devoted to his Catholic faith and actually studied and continues to study theology, sat at our kitchen and table and related a comment on the parable of the loaves and fishes. His son is considering joining the Jesuits, a very Catholic household indeed.

According to this friend at least some contemporary theologians would contend there was no actual miracle wherein the Christ multiplied loaves and fishes. What the Christ achieved was a miracle of persuasion. He convinced those who had, to share with those who had not.

We lost a son just a few months ago in Afghanistan. So many voices uttered the words “I can’t imagine” to which I respond “Don’t!” Only a small handful of Minnesotans know the depth and breadth of grief this brings. Believe me when I say you don’t want to even begin to know this hurt. This is not something to share.

What is to be shared from this sacrifice of service to this nation and to the soldiers to their left and right is our citizenry. This nation is something we jointly hold. Your citizenship is shared with five other million Minnesotans and three hundred million other Americans.

That which we share is citizenship, a citizenship which allows us to all to fall under a common rule of law. The same speed limits, the same tax deductions, the same judiciary, the same constitution declaring inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what we share regardless of race, creed or sex.

I read a lot of blogs now. Never used to do that and of course there are so many comments asking to share equal rights and so many vehement comments about religious and social traditions suggesting they aren’t to be shared, at least so far as “marriage” is concerned.

Reflecting now on those loaves and fishes I am advocating, and I could be wrong, that the Christ parable holds the answer to our civil upset here in Minnesota about the marriage amendment.

Recalling that phrase of a decade ago, “What Would Jesus Do” I’m speculating he’d come down to sharing. He would have found a way to persuade us on this symbolic Galilee hillside to share those rights, those loaves and fishes. And therein the miracle will reside. Let those loaves and fishes multiply, let us share by way of citizenship. It would seem to be the only way out of this marriage argument to salvage the faithful and the secular without division. Love is a powerful sentience; open your hearts to the miracle of it. Enjoy the bread, enjoy the fish, share.