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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Of Miracles and the Messiah (Modernism Part 48)

Today’s readings: Acts 5:34-42 John 6:1-15

Today at Mass the priest said in his homily that today’s gospel about the multiplication of the loaves and fish was about the miracle of transformation in the hearts of people that made them share with others what they had rather than an actual physical miracle. He said that the people had brought provisions with them and this is what they brought out after Jesus prayed over the loaves and fish provided by the boy. This is an unfortunate interpretation that is so modernist.

Why is such an interpretation, contrary to Church belief through the ages that what transpired was a miracle done by Jesus, wrong?

  • First, we can accept that the people did bring along their provisions. But in the version written by Matthew, he says “it was evening” (see Mt 14:15a). So possibly they had already consumed their provisions for lunch. They did not anticipate that Jesus’ teaching would last all day through the night.

  • Second, if the people did indeed have their own provisions, then what need was there to share? They could just consume whatever they had.

  • Third, could Jesus and the apostles have been so blind as to not see that the people had brought provisions? Jesus had said, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” (Jn 6:5).

  • Finally, after Jesus performed the miracle and people had eaten and there were more leftovers than what they started with, they were awed and said, “This is truly the Prophet” (Jn 6:14). Why would such awe be generated if it was a simple matter of eating what they themselves brought and then gathering the leftovers?

This modernist interpretation is tragic. It looks just to the human level and not to what God can do beyond human works. It looks to the mundane and not to the spiritual. It deprives God of credit for supernatural powers that are inherent in Him. It degrades our faith and strips it of the divine.

It was the same in the case of Gamaliel and the Sanhedrin. The scribes and Pharisees did not see the divine in Jesus, and they just looked on him as a troublesome fellow who was speaking against their humanist prescriptions of the Law. They wanted to suppress the apostles, but Gamaliel warned them: “if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38b-39).

This teaches us a number of things:

  • An activity that is just of human origin will destroy itself. If it is apart from God, and just dependent on human intelligence or strength, it will ultimately come to no avail. As humans, we are totally dependent upon God, and whatever good we do, contrary to our fleshly inclination to evil, depends on being formed in and looking to God’s ways. Thus modernism is doomed.

  • An activity that comes from God cannot be destroyed. How can it, being God’s work? Of course, God allows the evil one to harass and try to suppress His works, at times even seemingly destroying it (consider the death of Jesus on the cross), but God always triumphs in the end. Thus it is foolhardy for modernists to try to overturn the truths of God.

  • Modernists fight against God. This should be frightening to them. But worse, they still speak in the name of Jesus and cite scripture, but distorting the truths of God. They cite God but work against His designs. They proclaim what they claim to be true, but speak the lies of the enemy.

The Sanhedrin was persuaded by Gamaliel, but not because they saw the hand of God in the works of the apostles. They were just convinced by the argument that mere humans like Theudas and Judas the Galilean would ultimately fail. And so while freeing the apostles, they still had them flogged and ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:40).

Again, thinking like humans do that the apostles would now be deterred, they just succeeded in affirming them in their mission. The apostles left, “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” (Acts 5:41).

And “they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.” (Acts 5:42).


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