Monday, July 31, 2006

Homily for the Multiplication of Loaves

(Ordinarily I don't write out my homilies. If I do, then I read them and they tend to be very dull. Also, this way I avoid the temptation of reusing the same homily ever three years. However, after preaching this weekend, I decided to write this one out and post it here.)

Somewhere in the world this weekend someone is preaching the “Soggy Fish Sandwich” homily. Maybe you have heard it at sometime in the past. No doubt someone is asking, “Just what is the ‘Soggy Fish Sandwich’ homily?” It goes something like this, “Well you know, Jesus really didn’t create more bread and fish. He was just such a good guy that He inspired the people to share the bread and fish they had brought for themselves. (Hence, the term ‘Soggy Fish Sandwich’ given to this opinion by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.) This sharing is the real miracle.”
Well you won’t hear that non-sense here. In fact, if you ever hear me spout such heresy, you have my permission to smack me over the head with a 2x4 until I come to my senses. You won’t hear that drivel because it isn’t just non-sense, but rather it is heresy that undercuts the faith. Sacred Scripture and the constant interpretation of Sacred Scripture by the Church are clear in saying that this is, in fact, a real, physical miracle. It is clear that Jesus, by His power and authority as the Son of God, altered physical laws so that five loaves and two fish were enough to feed the multitude with more than five loaves and two fish left over. This is a real miracle which can inspire faith among the people: “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
Why is it important that we understand this miracle correctly? Because we must resist any attempt to explain away the power and the presence of Christ either in the Sacred Scriptures or in the world today. When Jesus worked a miracle or sign, He wasn’t simply doing parlor tricks. He wasn’t even primarily helping people. He was proclaiming the presence of the Kingdom of God not just in words but in deeds. If the signs are not real, then neither is the Kingdom they proclaim and our faith would be meaningless.
This is especially important with the miracle of the multiplication. It is a sign and a foreshadowing of the continuing, real miracle which is the Holy Eucharist. This miracle is recounted in the sixth chapter of the Gospel According to Saint John, which we will read at Sunday Mass over the next month. It is this miracle which the Lord uses to prepare the people for His teaching on the Holy Eucharist. It shows us God’s power to transcend the physical to meet our needs, physical or more importantly spiritual. It points to the continuing miracle of the Holy Eucharist in which there is always enough, more than enough, to feed the souls of all who believe. The real miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish points to the real miracle of the Eucharist which is the real thing, not a mere sign, memorial, or spiritual mumbo-jumbo.
Just as the reality miracle of the multiplication caused the crowd to believe that Jesus was the messiah, so the reality of the continuing miracle of the Holy Eucharist must inspire in us faith in Jesus, true God and true Man, who gives us His Flesh and Blood to eat and drink. Come let us adore Him!

At every Mass, people came up to me afterwards and said, "Father, I have heard the "Soggy Fish Sandwich" homily!" I even ran across a blog post commenting on how a deacon in Arizona preached the SFSH this weekend.
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