In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus was feeding the 5,000 with 5 loves and 2 fishes. In some homilies, that miracle spoke to Jesus’ divinity and love. In other homilies, that miracle showed the importance God puts on works of mercy, like feeding the hungry.
I bring this up, because a friend of mine told me about the homily at her parish. I’ve heard something like it myself. And I understand why she was upset.
In homily she heard, the miracle became a “miracle of sharing.” With Jesus teaching people to share the food that they had been hiding from each other. For 3 days in the desert.
Forget the lack of any historical or cultural evidence that 1st century Jews were opposed to sharing. Ignore the slander of a people who held hospitality as a sacred obligation. The plain language of the Gospel offers no support for this.
So why would any priest or deacon offer such a mangling of the Gospel?
Fear. Of God.
God is good beyond all telling. But a God who does stuff like this is a God who will push you beyond your comfort zone. A God who is anything but safe.
Sometimes priests and deacons (like everyone else) get overwhelmed by a God we can’t control. Who doesn't fit into neat categories. Who isn’t a house pet. Or a vending machine.
And faith becomes tainted with fear.
One very human reaction to that fear? To try to shrink God down to something we can control. Something safe.
Something that isn’t God.
Pray for priests, deacons, and for each other, that God will give each of us faith bigger than our fear.