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Miracle of Sharing Alert

This weekend – your place.

Maybe this gets old, but I never fail to be fascinated by it. The Gospel tomorrow is the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes from John, and somewhere, sometime tomorrow, a preacher is going to pause in the midst of his/her sermon/homily and say, "…but the real miracle of the day was…"

So…let us know if you hear it. I’m hoping no one will, and that day is past, but you never, ever know…

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posted July 30, 2006 at 12:16 am

I heard it last year (at a parish I was visiting).

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posted July 30, 2006 at 12:20 am

Ah, I got a head start – I got to hear it at 5 PM Mass today (University of Utah Newman Center, where I don’t usually go but it’s close, and I was solo with a fractious baby). What’s strange is that I had never, ever heard it before last year, but now I’ve heard it two years running, and in different churches. I’m hoping next year some blessed priest will fake us out with “The real miracle on that day was … the multiplication of five loaves and two fishes into enough food to feed thousands of people! Why, what did you think it was?”
I do wonder why it’s suddenly caught on – I mean, why do the loaves and fishes have to be explained like this, and with such a weak explanation, no less? Why no homilies suggesting that the raising of Lazarus was just Lazarus coicidentally awakening from an extended coma, and the real miracle was the love everyone felt that day, or something similar? (Not that I’m asking for such a homily!) But we’re being asked to seriously contemplate the idea that the crowd wanted to crown Jesus king because he told them to divvy up their food and no fair holding back on that extra loaf you have in your knapsack. It seems like … a bit of an overreaction, to say the least.

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Ryan C

posted July 30, 2006 at 12:28 am

At mass last night my priest went through the different explanations of the miracle, then said:
“Let me tell you about an explanation you may have heard, but which is completely wrong.”
And he proceeded to blast the “miracle of sharing homily” to smithereens. Nice to see and hear.
So while the miracle of sharing homily wasn’t expostulated, I did technically hear it.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 12:39 am

Went to Mass at 4:30 Saturday. Heard a wonderful sermon on how this miracle relates to Jesus being able to come and feed all of us every eucharist just as he served those on the mountain. And how Mass is not a celebration but a meeting, a meeting! We go up the mountain to meet Jesus and there on the mountain he feeds us with this small unleavened bread, and small amount of water and wine that becomes more than enough to so we can have the living bread. It was beautiful. It was unbearably hot (over 95) and our church doesn’t have airconditioning. Both my 17 yr. old and 16 yr old served and usually asking them what the priest says is answered with a “I didn’t really hear it.” This time they both said what a good sermon it was and how they understood what the priest was saying. This despite the added heat of cassocks wearing them down. Unfortunately the priest was a visiting priest and we won’t have him again. But on the plus side, he is the vocations director in our diocese and he served Mass like he truly, truly knew and believed Jesus was in the Eucharist and that we were in the presence of God. And we all felt it. All around a wonderful Mass. How sad that I find that so rare.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 1:02 am

You know guys, until right now I’ve actually never noticed it. Maybe I just go to sleep during that particular sermon. Heard one, heard them all generally!

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Jack Smith

posted July 30, 2006 at 1:07 am

A Scipture Reflection writer for our diocesan paper left the miracle intact, but was able, appropriately, to include a word on generosity:
“Let us not forget the generosity of that unnamed and unheralded boy who it seems willingly donated his food for the occasion.”

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posted July 30, 2006 at 1:16 am

St. Josemaria had an interesting take on this. No “real miracle” nonsense, thank you, but a point about how God relies on our cooperation with His plans…
“Our Lord wants to make us co-redeemers with him.
That is why to help us understand this marvel, he moves the evangelists to tell us of so many great wonders. He could have produced bread from anything… but he doesn’t! He looks for human co-operation: he “needs” a child, a boy, a few pieces of bread and some fish.
He needs you and me: and he is God! This should move us to be generous in our corresponding with his grace.” The Forge, 674

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mary martha

posted July 30, 2006 at 1:23 am

A couple of weeks ago at a Theology on Tap the topic was ‘A celebration of the Mass and an explanation’.
They choose this reading and of course, the homily was about the miracle of sharing. Because of course the fact that there were baskets there was evidence that people had brought food in those baskets.
No comment about the number of baskets being 12. Just lots about how great we all are because we share.
I guess I am going to have to head to St. John Cantius this week (even though it has no AC) to avoid a repeat of the ‘Aren’t we all so great because we share!’ Homily here in the ‘burbs at St. Air Conditioning.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 7:03 am

Another recent gem by the homilist from whom I first heard, several years ago, the “sharing” interpretation of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes:
On Friday he let us know during his homily that Jesus himself never explained the parable of the sower and the seed. Rather, the explanation — “a decent one, by the way” — found in Friday’s Gospel was merely “a homily of the early Church. Jesus, after all, never explained his parables. He wanted to leave them guessing and thinking. Furthermore, the parable’s deeper meaning is that other people (e.g., the Apostles and we ourselves, the ones at daily Mass) are responsible for the rejection of Jesus and his message by those described in the first part of the parable.”
There seem to be some who have a lot invested in being oblivious to, or even in undermining, what a devout Catholic can see to be the plain sense of Sacred Scripture and of the teaching documents of the Church. It’s sad, to be sure, but this brand of gnosticism has been around for a very long time.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 8:17 am

I heard it a few years ago. I’m going to a parish were I’m sure that either 1) I won’t hear it, or 2) it will be smashed to pieces.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 9:12 am

I thought the real miracle was Jesus leaving the grounds before the crowd made Him king.
Only in America, can food trump power.

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Karen LH

posted July 30, 2006 at 9:15 am

Not at our parish. Abp Wuerl visited for the vigil yesterday, and he did a great meditation on the boy who gave his loaves and fishes. The message: all we have to do is give what we have: Jesus will work the miracle.
Interestingly, I grew up with the “miracle of sharing” interpretation in my (liberal Protestant) family. My great-grandfather was a Methodist minister, and that had been his interpretation.
How do the folks who believe this interpretation square it with the first Mass reading? Was Elisha’s multiplication of the loaves also a “miracle of sharing”?

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posted July 30, 2006 at 9:57 am

I first came across this interpretation a number of years ago in a book by Keating, a Jesuit – I can’t remember his 1st name.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 10:23 am

My opinion is that is gets old. Yet some priest somewhere indeed will hear it for the first time and think it’s a novel idea. Honestly, I can’t ever remember hearing it directly, but other people complain, so it must be there, humming in the background.
The homily I heard last night from the vicar general said the focus was too much on the leftovers. The more important miracle isn’t the multiplication of food for a meal for thousands, but the Eucharist celebrated in every church.

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Rich Leonardi

posted July 30, 2006 at 10:25 am

A request that everyone wish each other “good morning!” as Mass began.
Ad-libbed prayers throughout the liturgy.
And a visiting priest from the excellent Food for the Poor organization.
But no Miracle of Sharing.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 10:55 am

We had a homily from our new pastor on how the crowd totally missed the point and tried to make Jesus king instead, and we miss the point, too. And how we’re all addicted to all kinds of material stuff, even though God will give us everything we need.
Pretty good homily. Unfortunately, after the 8 AM Mass was done, Father’s copy disappeared. It was still missing when I left, but I’m sure it turned up.
I did manage a new cantor mishap. Thanks to a song number change, I messed up the numbers on the board _and_ when I announced them. I corrected my announcement, though, so it wasn’t a total disaster.
On the good side, though, I remembered to check the Missalette for what the Gospel acclamation verse actually was, and it fit the music without too much scansion fiddling. So I didn’t have to sing one of the generic verses! Yay!
(I know this is pretty pathetic to be pleased about, but it’s the one rubric-y thing that’s really my job, and darn it, I want to do my job right. And geez, it’s not like they put those verses in the lectionary just for decoration.)

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posted July 30, 2006 at 11:31 am

No, at my Mass the priest talked about the toilet problems (you don’t want to know) and then wearily assured everyone that the new sinks do work and asked the parents of young children to please refrain from letting little Johnny draw on the walls. It was a taking care of business homily.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 11:40 am

I heard it at the Vigil Mass yesterday and I was very disappointed because it’s the first time I’ve heard this nonsense in my own parish. To further demoralize us the deacon homilist went on to say that ‘letting none go to waste’ refers to good stewardship of the earth – ike recycling or driving a hybrid automobile.
Will I go to hell for rolling my eyes and heaving sighs of disappointment? Surely Jesus understands that I am offended when He is reduced to the status of the clever soldier in the classic story Stone Soup.
Here’s a link if you don’t know the story.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 11:43 am

Miracles are not magic tricks–wake up and smell the coffee you literalist fools.

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Andy K.

posted July 30, 2006 at 12:06 pm

The homily I heard focused on Christian Service…”What does it mean to be Catholic?” was one question I heard.
Jack, your line about the generosity of the unnamed boy seems to echo the first intention at Mass for me.

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Tim Johnson

posted July 30, 2006 at 12:14 pm

At out normal parish my wife, who was lectoring, heard it sort of. Fr. D. referred to it as a possible explanation of the miracle. Didn’t say it was and didn’t say it wasn’t.
My reaction?
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! It’s NOT a possibility.
Glad I am going to St. Louis Bertrand later this evening. Really doubt I will hear it there.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 12:26 pm

I heard this stuff before, but not today – thankfully! Instead, our priest focused on the wonder of generosity (or sth like that) – a term he said came from Joseph Ratzinger when he was still a professor in Regensburg, Germany. Elisha feeds 100 with 12 breads, Jesus feeds 5.000 (plus the women and children) with only 5 breads – the generosity of God growing more and more during time. I didn’t listen well, though, due to an extended sleep deficite.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 12:52 pm

No, the homily at my parish drew the parallels among the miracles in the Gospel of John (such as here, the wedding at Cana, the raising of Lazarus, the healing of the blind man at Silaom, et cet.) that the evangelist is always highlighing multiple levels of meaning, the the individual miracle also explains the supernatural means by which God saves us, et cet. No reductionism to caauhwing and shaauwing.
Driving home a midday, I caught the very end of a sermon from Marsh Chapel at Boston University, where the sermonizer expressly denied the miracle of the feeding was anything other than getting people to share. Dang, I thought I had managed to escape that banality for the day! Were Memorial Church at Harvard in session, as it were, one could be sure Peter Gomes would have found a deft way to skewer that banality. (In Boston, the Sunday morning services at St. Pauls’ Cathedral (Episcopal), King’s Chapel (high Unitarian), Marsh Chapel and Memorial Church (but only when Harvard is in session) are regular fare on the radio; sometimes, you can hear some knock-out sermons, especially by Gomes, even if his technique is quite overpolished (it’s usually got some great substance notwithstanding).

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posted July 30, 2006 at 12:57 pm

We were treated to the possibility that the miracle could have happened as stated in Scripture but there is, alas, also another version (sharing the bounty).
A visiting priest sat in the sanctuary while two women distributed Communion…one in a long list of weekly aberrations that are driving me mad.
I’ve had all I can take at my parish. I cried in the car afterwards. (And I am NOT an emotional person.) The trouble is there is no parish reasonably close that’s any better. I feel like I’ve been desserted by my priest, my parish and my diocese.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 12:59 pm

I went to an Indult Mass, different Gospel reading, although a few weeks ago the priest blasted this type of poor theology.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 1:12 pm

The sermon was solid at our parish, but during the second reading the lector read, “live a life worthy of the calling you have received, with perfect humidity– HUMILITY and gentleness….” It would have been so appropriate, considering that today’s high is in the mid-90’s with humidity to match, but I guess we’ll have to focus on that elusive humility instead!

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posted July 30, 2006 at 1:30 pm

I wasn’t able to go to Mass this morning, so I don’t know what the homily was about.
But, regarding the “request that everyone wish each other “good morning!” as Mass began.… I was watching a TV broadcast of a service from a huge Baptist church in town. The preacher, before he began his sermon, welcomed everyone. He said that a couple of weeks ago some people came to him and said that they visited his church for the first time but no one said hello to them. They felt unwelcomed. He told the congregation this morning, “You know, maybe they were sitting next to some other newcomers who were waiting for someone to say hello.” He then asked everyone to stand and greet each other.
I don’t like that kind of thing done every week, but I did like his point that sometimes we need to get a wake-up call to say hello to the people around you. Every once in a while, a greeting time is not a bad thing.
Back to “the miracle of sharing.” My favorite part of the multiplication stories from the gospels is that Jesus said, “YOU give them something to eat.” (A line which wasn’t in the passage this morning.) He provided the miracle, we are supposed to help carry it on.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 1:54 pm

I couldn’t really make out everything the Priest was saying, because he had a very thick Indian accent. He started off with a story about a Church in Germany after the war that had a statue rebuilt, but the statue had no hands, and the Bishop told them to keep it in remembrance of the miracle that we are to be the Lord’s hands. I thought for a moment later in the homily that he was saying that the people came out and gave their own food, because the homily and then the prayers of intention were all about us giving to the poor. But I wasn’t sure. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, b/c of his accent.

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Linda Cacpal

posted July 30, 2006 at 2:14 pm

Too late … I READ it in a Homiletic Commentary for the B Cycle “Lift Up Your Hearts” put out by Paulist Presss, no less! So if THEY’RE writing it in a book for preachers, it’s no wonder you hear it so many times straight from the homilist’s mouth!

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posted July 30, 2006 at 2:14 pm

Today (actually yesterday) was our parish’s feast day – St Martha. We celebrate it today with a great picnic down by the river beach. Father’s homily started with a little bit about Martha, being a host back in the day and how we should be generous with what we have not only our material things but also our spiritual things. He transitioned into the gospel account of the sharing of the loaves and fish. He stated that was a miracle and that God’s love for us was shown by providing for all and that he continues to do that today at our Eucharist Feast and that we are part of it today, we are sharing in
God’s love for us. It was one of his best homilies. The twelve o’clock mass was a special celebration of St Martha and had great music. All the different groups -the choir, the folk, flutes and trumpets and even beautiful latin. It was a feast for the ears!

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posted July 30, 2006 at 2:54 pm

Gratefully, yet not surprisingly, not from our pastor. Never such a cheesy gimmick. We got a much more enlightening homily with more of a “please notice” intro tying the multiplication of loaves to the Eucharist (logical, of course); and again notice it was Jesus who broke the five loaves, thus producing enough for the five thousand. Same for the fish, and how through the Mass and prayer if we as Faithful hand over our seemingly insignificant time, talents, gifts, etc., to Jesus to distribute, there is more than enough to go around for the entire world. The point was made that too many lead lives of self-indulgence who could easily afford to share, while many are starving to death. I must say I was moved, as I am nearly every Sunday. Our parish is extremely blessed.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 3:03 pm

I always wondered why this “miracle of sharing” misinterpretation was so infuriating. I mean, it’s not just an example of a misguided or erroneous reflection…somehow, it is so irksome as to demand outraged refutation.
On reflection, I thought perhaps this is because the true point of the miracle of the loaves and fishes – our complete reliance on the grace of God – is turned on its head by the “miracle of sharing”, in which Jesus is just a bystander, useful at most for encouraging people to share their food. I think it is this antithetical interpretation – turning the true meaning inside out, and celebrating our oh so wonderful, sharing selves – that is the reason for our special disdain for the “miracle of sharing”.

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Chris Sullivan

posted July 30, 2006 at 3:49 pm

Nothing about the sharing explanation in our homily which focused on God’s love being so big that there is always plenty left over. Maybe that’s because we’re not yet up to absorbing it all ?
It’s interesting that the miracle is not explicit in the gospel account, and neither is it explicit in the Elisha account. One wonders if one really needs to grasp the Jewish understanding of the Elisha event as a miracle in order to grasp the gospel account. The similarities between the Elisha account and the gospel account are quite striking.
God Bless

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posted July 30, 2006 at 4:21 pm

By the grace of God, I’ve never heard this “miracle of sharing” dreck preached at any Mass, but I agree with z — it’s infuriating because it’s yet another sop to the people who believe that church is all about Them and not about Him.
Why is it so difficult for so many to accept that we are fully reliant on God’s grace and bounty, and that all that we have and all that we are comes from Him and will return to Him?

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posted July 30, 2006 at 4:46 pm

Yes, I heard it, and in addition, our visiting African priest carried it a step further by making it the basis of a looong homily about “redistribution of the world’s wealth”. During which he actually quoted KARL MARX for God’s sake! I’m thoroughly SICK of this heretical blasphemous filth.

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ignorant redneck

posted July 30, 2006 at 4:54 pm

Hey Mr Anon.
I do believe there is a gospel quote about not calling your brother a fool… .

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posted July 30, 2006 at 4:57 pm

thankfully, no “miracle of sharing” reductionism. Instead, part of the homily was devoted to the Apostle Phillip, as a model for the priesthood. Jesus tells the apostles to feed the people; Phillip knows that he is unequal to the task; then, Jesus feeds the people himself, including the apostles in His work.

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Father Elijah

posted July 30, 2006 at 5:00 pm

I feel very sad hearing so many heard homilies stating that the ‘multiplication of the loaves and fish’ was about sharing and not what it really is about-Who Jesus really is (to paraphrase from another Scripture: ‘You have a greater than a prophet here-Jesus does not simply proclaim the word of God as prophets do-He IS the Word of God) and the Mystery of the Eucharist [in both the ‘miracle’ and the institution of the Eucharist Jesus takes, blesses/gives thanks, (breaks) and distributes]
What is even more sad, is that this is based on a ‘world-view’ that is at enmity with the Gospel and Catholic world view. No we are not against sharing. But to reduce this event to mere sharing manifests a belief that miracles cannot happen; that this world (universe) with all of its laws is absolutely and positively closed to the possiblity of ‘intervention’ by God.
Without realizing those who merely echo what some book and or professor already said are offering an ‘anti-catechesis’, an ‘anti-word’, a ‘counter-gospel’ that is not good news at all.
The sad but logical conclusion to this world-view’s belief would lead one to deny the REAL miracles of re-creation in baptism and transubstantiation in the Eucharist as well as the reality of the Incarnation
What a sad world, a dark world with which we would be left.

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Bill H

posted July 30, 2006 at 5:22 pm

Didn’t go to my normal parish this morning, but at the one I was at, the priest mentioned this interpretation, and then explained why it was a bad interpretation. All in all, good homily.

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Christopher Fotos

posted July 30, 2006 at 5:30 pm

At my parish, it was kind of snuck in there at the end, though I don’t want to over-emphasize that or read too much into it. Our priest noted how remarkable the event was, and described it from start to finish pretty much as just read from the Gospel. However, after talking about the Eucharist and some other matters, he told a story about a soup kitchen collecting food that during some pivotal moment gathered more goods than could be fit into the truck. This was described, to paraphrase, as sharing in the miracle of the loaves.
I like this priest and have no, er, jihad against him. However, in general I’d very much enjoy hearing homilies that talked more about the reality of miracles. Even second-hand inferential events, in the manner of NT Wright weighing the behavior of all these Christians running around saying Christ is risen–no, really.
I realize there’s a danger there in turning our faith into some kind shallow magic show. But the miracles of Jesus and all that follows, up through saints in our own time, are not superficial for a doctrine that preaches bodily resurrection.
And sorry for the rambling nature of this post, but these thoughts came to mind after being sort of verbally assaulted, out of the blue, by a couple of good friends who expressed their thorough disbelief of anything Catholic. They were particularly dismissive of any supernatural (is that the right word?) claims. And in my lame efforts to defend the Church, I realized this is one area where my knowledge is particularly weak.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Mine did too. He pointed out that fish sandwiches that stay five days in the refrigerator is not rather tasty, but fish sandwiches in 90 degree weather for days? Sharing that would be poison!

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Tom Ryan

posted July 30, 2006 at 5:43 pm

If course, the banality of so many preachers is annoying.
The 6 similar accounts of the multiplication certainly let us know (4 accounts of the 5000, 2 accounts of the 4000)that this is a very important event. But I do not share some observor’s readness to characterize every “it’s all about sharing” spin as heresy, disbelief in real presence, or an embrace of faithless exegesis.
In the very text itself, we see that the miracle actually points to a greater miracle, the eucharist. And preachers from the patristic era to now have rightly pointed out the eschatological dimension — it’s all about the reign! So a quick moving from the sea-side grass to other messages is very traditional and proper.
At Tabgha, the Benedictine priory and church marking the place cenerated for 1600+ years as the site of the miracle, the prior recently shared with my pilgrimage group this site-specific story.
The ancient mosaic at the altar there (see it at and elsewhere) shows 4 loaves. Now we know that the 4 evangelists (in 5000 feeding) agree on the detail about 5 loaves. The artist and clergy of the early centuries wanted to say that the 5th loaf is on the altar above. It’s all about sharing in the eucharist.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 6:08 pm

Not only didn’t I hear that silliness at my parish, but the priest spoke of it as being one more miracle of God…”The same God who created the universe out of nothing…the same God who multiplied the loaves and fishes…is the same God who offers us his Body, Blood, Sould and Divinity in the Eucharist. And why? Because of love…How do we respond to that love? How do we properly prepare ourselves to recieve Him and all of His love?” And then he did a nice little talk about the powers of confession.
And that’s just one of the reasons I travel to a different state to attend mass.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 6:14 pm

I can’t seem to keep cash or loose change on me. It gets panhandled off all the time. Who knew I was so miraculous.
Really, when the preacher goes on about the wonderfulness of sharing I think he must be a selfish person to think that it’s so remarkable.

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scotch meg

posted July 30, 2006 at 6:48 pm

We were visiting my in-laws and so not at our usual parish. Deacon homilist started off talking about not being good at multiplication when he was a kid, and I thought it was going to be a boring (if orthodox) talk — but he redeemed himself at the very, very end by making a firm statement of faith: “All we have today is a little bit of bread and a little wine, but this is God’s greatest multiplication table.” So he brought his story back, very successfully, to the Eucharist. Hubby (who paid more attention because he was two pews up from me, the 11 yo, and the 6 yo) was not generally impressed, but did like the ending. Would have liked to be home because Father said on Thursday after daily Mass that he HATES the sharing-the-loaves explanation and I bet he gave it a zinger.

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Gerald Augustinus

posted July 30, 2006 at 7:14 pm

Nothing about “sharing” but a discourse of the Eucharist and the point that God gives abundantly, more than we can imagine. Homily by Msgr. Callahan, Vicar General of San Diego. Good stuff.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 7:15 pm

I’ve wondered more than anything about those baskets that suddenly turned up to store the leftovers. Were they real baskets or a unit of measurement? If real baskets, then their sudden appearance was itself a minor miracle.

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Terrence Berres

posted July 30, 2006 at 7:22 pm

“…at my Mass the priest talked about the toilet problems…”
At first, I thought this was about how there were five thousand men, and the women and children, and miraculously no one asked where the bathroom was.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 7:39 pm

Our parochial vicar started with a story about Mother Theresa (he is from India) bringing rice to a poor woman, who then proceeded to give half of it to her neighbor, who was even worse off than she was. Then he went on about how the poor are often more generous because they have been there…they’ve been poor and in need. Then he talked about the boy in the gospel reading, who gave what little he had, which Christ then used to feed the hungry crowd. He talked about how God can take the least amount and work miracles with it – he ended with another story about Mother Theresa and how she arrived in India with twenty cents in her pocket and how much good she was able to work – all the schools, orphanages, clinics, etc.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 9:04 pm

I had never heard about the miracle of sharing interpretation until I read about it here on this blog last year. So how does the miracle of sharing work with the accounts from Mark and Matthew where the people haven’t eaten for three days and are near collapsing? What exactly did they have to share?
Anyway, 6:30 pm Mass at St. Joseph’s in the Bloomfield section of Pittsburgh (I call this my Mass of Last Chance–it isn’t one of the closest parishes, but it is one of the latest). The West Afican priest started of his homily with calling this a mriacle, a true miracle, and then discussed how we need food to survive, and how God provides that to us, but in His way, not ours. Not his exact words, but I think his general gist.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 9:10 pm

Our priest referred to how Jesus retreated when the crowd wanted to make Him king and went on to speak about not allowing religion to be manipulated by politics. He mentioned an evangelical church that lost some of its followers when its pastor denounced making the church a venue for partisan political activity. The homily was pretty good, though I think that was an easy lesson for my liberal southern CA parish to hear. I would have liked to hear him correct the conventional view regarding the separation of Church and state and say that we Christians cannot “check our faith at the door” even in matters political. Maybe I’m being too hard on him. Maybe I should just wait for the homily on the Feast of St Thomas More.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 9:19 pm

The priest at our Sat. evening Mass actually began his homily with, “At some parishes this evening, the people will be hearing a homily about how this miracle was ‘a Miracle of Sharing’, but you won’t hear that from me!” And then went on to talk about his last pilgrimage to the Holy Land and how it feels to be standing where Jesus performed his miracles.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 9:25 pm

I heard the “miracle of sharing” last year. However I was able to avoid it this year, since I attended Mass at St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN. :) We were treated to a lovely homily about how God can take the little we have to offer and work miracles with it – essentially the same idea in St. Josemaria’s meditation which was referenced above.
I guess I am going to have to head to St. John Cantius this week (even though it has no AC) to avoid a repeat of the ‘Aren’t we all so great because we share!’ Homily here in the ‘burbs at St. Air Conditioning.
I did likewise. I much prefer sweltering at St. Agnes to sitting through bad liturgy in the air-conditioned church closer to where I’m staying. I’m a visitor in the Twin Cities this summer and am highly impressed with St. Agnes. I’ll miss it when I have to go home.

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RP Burke

posted July 30, 2006 at 9:35 pm

Not a peep on the “miracle of sharing” at our cathedral, where we attended instead of our parish because of the timing of an event for our daughter. A visiting priest, filling in for the rector who was preparing the cathedral parish’s picnic, said there was much to preach about in the gospel but instead focused on the letter from Ephesians, especially the call to “preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace,” and led us in a prayer for peace in the middle East.

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posted July 30, 2006 at 10:23 pm

Our young associate pastor spoke of the miracle and the Faith of the young boy with the fishes and the loaves. The apostles were like what?? But the young boy had faith and therefore Jesus was able to use the small gift for a large purpose. We all have small gifts we all need faith and trust in God and he can work miracles.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 1:52 am

The “miracle of sharing” bit was the one failing of the movie “Millions” too. (sigh)

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posted July 31, 2006 at 7:04 am

I’ve never heard the sharing sermon, and please God I never will. The priest here focussed on the little boy who gave up his lunch and thereby served as the means to feed a crowd. The sermon was rambling – Father is 80ish – but I remember that one point.

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Henry Dieterich

posted July 31, 2006 at 8:24 am

Our pastor mentioned that the sharing nonsense was what he had heard in the seminary (twenty-some years ago). But he defended the reality of the miracle, mentioning the various Gospel parallels, and the Old Testament prefigurements, including the incident in the first reading, Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, and the manna in the desert, and relating them all to the Eucharist. He even managed to bring in the Epistle reading.

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Clare Krishan

posted July 31, 2006 at 8:33 am

Pity the parish priest DownUnder who had to cede his homily on the five loaves and two fishes to a rowdy clerical guest who unbeknowst to him had broken into the church and installed artwork fabricated by a group of activist parishioners:
      When he [the guest pastor, ed.] called on the Redfern congregation to stand and bless this “permanent” memorial to Aboriginal spirituality, Fr Prindiville’s arms stayed tightly by his side, the Herald reported.
      Preaching on the loaves and fish and alluding to the conflicts in the parish, Fr Brennan asked: “This big mob, how can they be fed? This big mob, how can they be reconciled?”
      Comparing the seminarians from the Neocatechumenate Movement – new arrivals in Australia – and the Indigenous people present at the ceremony to “two book-ends holding together the rest of us who are the books on the shelf of modern Australia,” he said “all it takes is five barley loaves and two fish to reconcile.”
      “Just remember the small boy in today’s gospel. … The boy gave everything he had. Only then was Jesus able to feed everyone with sufficient for there to be leftovers. Only then will he be able to reconcile us. We must give and share all we are and have,” Fr Brennan told the crowd at St Vincent’s parish.
      According to Fr Prindiville, “the problem is that people won’t accept any sort of authority. They have been used to doing their own thing for so long.”

Read more on the the whole astounding escapade here.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 9:07 am

Ours was how God multiplies little gifts like those of the boy with the loaves and fishes to work greater things. Although the homilist refused to use masculine pronouns for God (only for Jesus specifically) he did give the indication that he believed the event was indeed miraculous.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 10:27 am

I’m offended by the homily saying it was a miracle these people were sharing because I think it’s based on anti-Semitic stereotypes.

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Dale Price

posted July 31, 2006 at 10:59 am

What Pius said: the “miracle” of “sharing” explanation is inherently anti-Semitic.
After all, at its heart it is an argument that the “real miracle” is that Jesus somehow managed to get Jews to share….

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posted July 31, 2006 at 11:21 am

Archbishop Wuerl needs to call his office. I was at 5:30 (Sunday) Mass at St. Matthew’s in DC and heard a guest preist give the “miracle of sharing” homily. WORSE though, he gave the homily as though he were Phillip giving an eyewitness account of the miracle. Give me a break.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 11:30 am

I first heard that concept of the Loaves and Fishes story in a Methodist church maybe 15 years ago? It struck me as wrong then, even though I wasn’t Catholic, and now it seems to be anti-Catholic to me, as well as anti-Semitic.
Because when my fundamentalist Christian friends/families tell me that it’s “impossible” for everybody to physically eat the flesh of Christ for 2,000 years and counting, I just open a Bible to the Gospel of John and point to this story.
If Jesus can turn a few small fish and loaves into a feast for thousands, there should be no question He can provide His Body and Blood to multitudes for endless generations. (Similarly, if He can turn water into wine, turning wine into His blood must also be possible.)

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Marty Helgesen

posted July 31, 2006 at 11:35 am

I was concerned at first because the celebrant, a usually reliable retired Maryknoll priest who lives in the rectory and helps out, began by saying he had read an article with an interesting idea. He made several remarks which seemed ambiguous, perhaps because I was fearing the worst, but then said explicitly that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes that the boy had. The interesting speculation, which he said explicitly was only speculation, involved the baskets of leftovers. What happened to them? He suggested that maybe Jesus gave them to the boy, showing the adults in the crowd that generosity is rewarded.
I’ve read about that nonsense many times, but heard it only once. It was in my parish, several years ago, but the celebrant was a priest from India who was there for a few weeks in the summer. In the course of presenting that interpretation he said that in his country people always bring a little extra food on a picnic. I don’t know whether the concept of picnics even existed in the Holy Land at that time, but even if it did the people were not on a picnic. They had been going about their ordinary business when they heard a teacher whose teaching was strangely compelling and they wanted to hear more.
One frightening thing is that although that priest was a native of India he lived in Rome, where he was a teacher. I don’t know what he taught, but I hope it wasn’t scripture.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 11:35 am

We heard it! Our priest said that of course Jesus could have multiplied the loaves and fishes, but the early Church Fathers speculated that it was the “miracle of sharing.”

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Fr Martin Fox

posted July 31, 2006 at 11:44 am

At my two parishes, the other two priests and I decided, from this Sunday through August (as long as we have John 6 readings for the Gospel) that we would speak on the Mass itself, with attention to various parts of the Mass.
So this Sunday, I focused on the basic question — what is the Mass? Answer: the Mass is about a miracle. Then I ruled out all the miracles we know about, even transubstantiation (yes, I used the word — twice!) as the primary miracle of the Mass; rather, the primary miracle of the Mass is the Sacrifice.
Then, I talked about the importance of “entering into” this awesome, world-changing event, and being prepared by the grace of the Holy Spirit for it — and this is what our introductory rites of the Mass aim to help happen in us.
Along the way, I did talk about the Gospel reading — how the miracle of the multiplication was easy to see, compared to the miracle in the horror of the cross, which is what Jesus came for, not to be a bread-king.
As I was proclaiming the Gospel, I found myself wanting to preach a different homily — i.e., there were so many interesting things in the readings, such as comparing how Elisha emphasized the Lord would perform the miracle, whereas in this, Jesus does not say anything about God doing it — he does it himself: prophecy, fulfillment — a greater than Elisha is here.
I don’t wish to be disrespectful to priests and others, many of whom are smarter than I am, wiser and holier, but — this “miracle of sharing” stuff is so stupid! It is an illustration of one of the principles I teach about reading the Bible: the “they weren’t morons” rule.
It goes like this: when someone interprets a passage in a way that requires the people involved to be moronic — that’s a wrong interpretation. I.e., ordinary people of Jesus’ day weren’t stupid, they weren’t lacking in sense. So if a bunch of us went to a public park, to hear someone give a talk, and at the leader’s instigation, everyone shared their picnic baskets, why in the world would any sensible person react as the people did in the Gospel? “Oh, wow, we’re all so dazzled that we will now launch a revolution against the world’s superpower to make him king!” Please!
Some of these oh-so-smart interpreters of Scripture will say, pay attention to context — but this particular interpretation totally violates that. Simply read the Gospel of John, from the beginning, to this point, and beyond, and there’s no question about the author talking about supernatural signs. After all, he begins the entire Gospel by telling us the Logos became man, etc. Then he tells us about the “first sign,” the changing of water to wine. (Has anyone heard a serious attempt to turn that into a miracle of sharing?)
I think this “miracle of sharing” stuff is bunkum for all four Gospels, but to apply it to the Gospel of John is particularly stupid.

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Fr Martin Fox

posted July 31, 2006 at 11:45 am

By the way, I posted my homily at my website, if you are interested. I find it very helpful when people offer pointed comments, pro or con.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 11:50 am

Dear (fr)Tom Ryan: FYI, The “miracle of sharing” thesis IS heretical because it places the crowd (us) at the center rather than the person who really is the center of all creation, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s heresy. Doesn’t matter how many fancy references you apply to it.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 12:05 pm

We heard nothing of loaves, miracles or sharing. Instead we heard a homily celebrating the anniversary of Humanae Vitae. It was wonderful, however Father was VERY THOROUGH in explaining the encyclical and all of the ramifications and I was hoping that my 8 year old oldest child would not be paying close attention to this homily. I would ask that Father give a repeat performance in about 10 years!

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posted July 31, 2006 at 12:08 pm

I heard it. The Pastor, in his lovely Irish brogue, covered his tail by begininning the deconstruction of Jesus’ miracle by saying “Scholars would say”, then went on to the “miracle of sharing” stock homily, implicitly denying any supernatural occurence at the hands of the Lord. Sad.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 12:16 pm

Yup, got the “miracle of sharing” homily as well, from a visiting Indian priest who also directed us to do some sort of breathing exercises before the readings.
I’d never heard it before (one of the benefits of being an ex-Evangelical). It makes me wonder if such folks even believe in miracles.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 12:21 pm

My priest kept bumping up the numbers. By homily’s end it was seven loaves among 15,000 people ( ! )

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posted July 31, 2006 at 12:26 pm

I think that many priests and deacons who do the ‘sharing’ spiel actually do believe the miracle took place. It’s just that they can’t resist the temptation to give a moral lecture instead of a sermon. The moral and functional has a larger place in their religiosity than the miraculous and sacramental. They are not reductionists or demythologizers per se, they are just ‘T.F. Powers priests’, and exhorting people to be generous, esp. with reference to the collection plate (so they can pay for all those toilets) just seems to be the practical thing to do.

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John J. Simmins

posted July 31, 2006 at 12:48 pm

cricket: it was 5k MEN. Counting women and children, many say it could have been 15-20K.
I was at the Defending the Faith conference in Stuebenville. Didn’t hear it there.
In my home parish (St. Peter’s Waldorf, MD), my wife reports that Fr. Flum morphed homily from miracle of loves and fishes to a stirring defense of large families and NFP. Wish I’d heard that.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 1:55 pm

My pastor hedged his bets. He said Jesus had clearly performed a miracle, but could not have done so had some people refused to share their food and their wicker baskets.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Ya, he said that too. But that’s my second joke today that’s been spoiled by the facts.
And he did go from five to six up to seven on the number o’ loaves. He might have been slo-o-o-owly creeping up on the share/care exegesis, but I think it was to make sure we were paying attention. A third possibility: he might be just starting to “lose it”, God bless him.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 3:24 pm

our beloved bishop gave the homily. the themes ran along the lines of:
“it is the hand of God who feeds us.”
“we give what we have. God multiplies it and uses it for the good of others.”

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posted July 31, 2006 at 3:36 pm

St. Mary’s Church, Star City, WV, adjacent to Morgantown (home of West Virginia University) – we had a visitng priest, and he trotted out the ‘miracle of sharing’ explanation as a ‘possible’ interpretation, alongside the traditional ‘cosmic miracle’ reading. He didn’t explicitly favor one over the other, but he did trot out the old ‘Stone Soup’ fable referenced above, in which all the townspeople add their own foodstuffs to the ‘stone soup’, so that would seem to implicitly favor the ‘miracle of sharing’ spin.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 6:24 pm

I heard it from a retired priest who sometimes does Mass at my parish. My girlfriend told one of her co-workers, who is Greek Orthodox, about it. Her response was “Ummm… NO.”
The Orthodox are like a canary in the coal mine when it comes to heterodoxy :p

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posted July 31, 2006 at 7:39 pm

i didn’t hear it this year. i wasn’t at my regular parish, and i am not sure whether the pastor of my parish is likely to preach a “miracle of sharing” sermon, although he would be likely to put far more emphasis on how we’re supposed to follow Jesus’s example and feed the hungry than on the occurence of a miracle.

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posted July 31, 2006 at 9:44 pm

I was at the Newman Center at UC Berkeley for Mass… no miracle of sharing nonsense.

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posted August 1, 2006 at 1:51 am

Fr. Martin–I love your “they weren’t morons” rule!
Last year, we heard the “Miracle of Sharing” theory, presented as, “Whether you believe it was a miracle of sharing, or that it was an actual miracle….” I couldn’t believe they’re still doing it. I’m a new Catholic, and I heard this back in my Presbyterian Church in the late 1960s. I remember thinking our minister was so smart and how cool that was. I didn’t realize this kind of thing just slowly and subtly undermined my faith over the years. It is a direct attack on Christ’s divine power, in my opinion, maybe not by the homilist, but by the father of lies. Modern people don’t believe in *miracles* after all; that would be something primitive peoples do…this is all modernist nonsense. Plus it fits in well with a symbolic explanation for the Eucharist. No wonder I never even considered the possibility that Jesus meant it literally.
Oh, and as to your observation:
Then he tells us about the “first sign,” the changing of water to wine. (Has anyone heard a serious attempt to turn that into a miracle of sharing?)
Actually I have! *That* was, you see, obviously that when they filled the wine jugs, there was still a little residue of wine in there, so that the final product was very light and delicious, and better than what was there before. Seriously!

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posted August 1, 2006 at 12:04 pm

We heard the caring and sharing version from our Deacon whom I tried to intercept before the service by giving him the Evelyn Wood speed reading course from the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes about why that interpretation is wrong. He proceeded, however, citing “a great scholar” whose credentials I am yet unable to verify… It is so bad with this poor, badly formed Deacon that if he doesn’t mention Richard Rohr in his sermon, I feel truly blessed. Note to Anonymous: It’s not the people on this blog you have to worry about – the one Who matters already knows your name. Unbelievable that the “One, Holy, Apostolic Church” can have all these various anomalies on Her teaching. Ay yi yi!

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B Knotts

posted August 1, 2006 at 5:11 pm

I was visiting in-laws, and tried a different parish than the one I went to last time, in hopes of finding a reverent Mass.
The homily was similar to the one given by Bp. Wuerl mentioned above The miracle was neither explicitly endorsed or denied.
Otherwise, the Mass was loaded with abuses: opening glad-handing, glassware, army of EMHCs, cacophony, explanatory statements for the readings, universal hand-holding, standing for the Consecration, etc.
Can anyone tell me of a reverent Mass in the Diocese of San Jose (or Monterey)?

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