Many of us would have noticed a significant drop in the number of people at Mass last week and probably this week too. Some Masses were cancelled and so was Sunday School. It is that time of the year where life in many parishes comes to a standstill as many people were headed to pilgrim centres of St Anne. People go in the hope that special favours are granted and there are those who go in thanksgiving for favours granted. In some ways, these are the little ‘miracles’ that we hope for when we visit pilgrim centres. People come with great expectations… whether it is for physical healing, success in exams, seeking a suitable bride or bridegroom, in search of a new job, a baby or whatever it may be, there is a sense of hope for a ‘miracle’ to happen or else we would not see crowds of people making time to be present at these places.
From time to time we need ‘miracles’ and these miracles also come in the form of signs and symbols. The Catholic faith has many signs and symbols that they assure us of God’s presence and proximity in our daily lives. However our lives cannot only be in search from one miracle to another, from one sign to another, from one pilgrim centre to another. We also know from Scripture that there were places where Jesus refused to perform miracles because He knew that they were only interested in the sign and not what He had to say.
The gospel today is of the multiplication of loaves – a great miracle. Probably even the disciples did not expect this. In fact Chapters 14 – 16 are defining moments in the life of the disciples. Chapters 14 & 15 of Mathew’s gospel have three significant miracles – the feeding of five thousand (Jesus does this twice), Jesus walks on water, and Jesus heals the sick. And finally the defining moment comes in Chapter 16 when Jesus asks his disciples… Who do people say the Son of Man is? Who do you say that I am?
In other words, the miracles were leading up to the profession of faith. From that moment onwards, there are very few miracles that are recorded in Matthew’s gospel. It was probably Matthew’s way of saying that once you know who Jesus is, there is no more a need to prove who He is. The Pharisees and Sadducees demand for a sign in Chapter 16 but Jesus refuses because He knows that wasn’t going to lead them to professing faith in Him.
The same could be said for us – once we have discovered who Jesus is, there is no more need for signs, for ‘miracles’. In fact, knowing that we humans who need signs to make us belief, God gives us the ‘miracle’ of Jesus – the miracle of the Eucharist. For most of us, we consider a miracle as something extraordinary, something unseen before, something a little more dramatic… whereas the Eucharist happens every day and unspectacular anymore.
The miracle of the Eucharist is something we know in our heads but we don’t feel in the heart. We are willing to pay thousands to visit miraculous pilgrim sites, but we may have lost the enthusiasm for the person who makes this happen. The sign becomes more important than the person who makes these signs happen – Jesus Christ.
Let not our faith revolve around ‘miracles’ or signs, but let it be centred on the person of Jesus for without Him these ‘miracles’ do not happen. If you have experienced a ‘miracle’, then it is meant to deepen your faith in Jesus for if we put our faith and trust in Him, nothing can come between us and the love of Christ.