Great Author: So how to break down what is essential here, in the message one might call the Christian one? I can understand the naps, to release one from the world and get back to the creative mode… Big things like this must be addressed with a clear and fresh mind. And Son of Man is a useful expression, but there is also Christ's saying from the Gospel of Mary, "the child of true humanity exists within you." Maybe that captures the meaning of his reality as it applies to our own. A truer form of the human being exists within you, and if you look within for it, you will find something.
But then we get to the miracles, the loaves and the fishes… And involved with this there is the problem of the disciples' faith, that their hearts are so hardened that they remain troubled, as they are in the ship when he comes out walking on the water toward them. Didn't you remember how we fed so many and had baskets remaining even when there were only five loaves and one fish, all of which I broke… So why are you troubled by a storm?
I know all this may sound quite silly for us to talk about, but it is one way of thinking about things that are matters of faith, hard to comprehend. You can read a gospel, but you have to absorb it, toss it around in your mind.
So why are the miracles of Christ and the lackings of faith in the disciples juxtaposed, as if they themselves didn't believe the story that was happening before them? There is a hint of a parable in feeding the sheep, the gathered masses, teaching them, sustaining them, nourishing them in loaves and fishes, maybe not unlike that of the sower of seed. Many many will be nourished by my words, don't you believe that? I know it might seem like just a few words that must feed the needs of so many spirits, so few teachings. But is it the metaphor, the parable that has come true before them, that they don't get symbolically? Is in the events themselves, that obvious reality anyone who's ever been hungry knows, that one hamburger is only going to get you so far, no ifs, ands or buts. I suppose if you're in a good mood you'll take the one hamburger and it might take you a bit further than otherwise, but still, these people had come from far and they had far to travel, for they had stayed and listened to Jesus about as long as they could.
Is it a matter of mutual faith combining to feed everyone, the firm knowledge of Jesus on the one hand, and the faith of the believers? Is a matter of gathering up the courage to believe in the Good whole-heartedly? Is it a matter we must chew on, as it were?
But it's obvious something physically must have happened. Five loaves became twenty five hundred, just a guess. I've seen a movie version of it, with people crowded around baskets, and there was some editing going on.
What's the meaning of it all? That we should just believe? That we will miss the main reality if we don't observe and remember, allowing for things mysterious to remain so while accepting them? I don't know.
Perhaps it is that the act of faith has a satisfying fullness, a sufficiency to it. A writer often has that feeling that whatever he might write, it's never going to be enough, it's never going to do the trick, it's never going to reach that strange perfectly mysterious goal anyway that allows the writer to have a lasting satisfaction that what he's written is any good… But if the writer has some faith, then it's as if he could tell himself that the small plain thing he wrote is good, as good as it needs to be, maybe better, doesn't have to go beyond that. Maybe that's the truth about an act of faith coming out of the spirit, is that it goes a long way. Sufficient to the day the evil thereof, Jesus says, and here, perhaps, is the other side of the equation. Thus he can place the emphasis not on the facts of how many pounds of bread and fish were served, which anyway did the trick, but on the reaction of the disciples, who are nervous about the ship, as if they were about the general state of things as well. Fellahs, it's all going to be sufficient. It's all going to work out, and in the end, after the good lesson, many will find nourishment.
How about that, to find, as a regular person on this earth, some peace, serenity, calm, faith, a respite from the sense of pending doom and horror, thoughts of homelessness, sickness, dying, the things that haunt us when we're tired and confused, the sense that we can never do enough to provide reasonable safety and security.
Christ tells us that the good act is wholesomely sufficient, that we must accept the belief that, contrary to what we might think, a good spiritual act or thought or teaching in its purity really can achieve something. Because I know myself, the feeling, "what good did that do," or "that only succeeded in causing me greater troubles than I had before," when you tried to do something "good" or "kind." And the scribes were giving Jesus and the disciples a pretty hard time, so its an atmosphere that would be rattling on top of one's usual circumspect doubts. Of course it can also seem, on top of that, that everyone in the whole world is a doubter, an officious nit-picker intent on taking you down, ganging up on you, waiting, wanting you to do something so they can say, "I knew it, I gotcha." Checking off a list with their negativity. How small and naked and even pathetic and misunderstood the good act.
Lest we forget, there is the great metaphorical aspect of bread, which Jesus reminds the disciples of, as if the whole series of incidents allowed the metaphor to continue on and gain meaning. Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, beware the leaven of Herod… He explains then the two miracles of feeding the crowds by this light too. And people need that spark of intelligence and humor to speak metaphorically, or it would be a miserable world. Perhaps that itself is an argument against the hardhearted literalism of the stickler scribes. Jesus is able to dance around them, directly combats them in word, contradicts their efforts to tempt him.
Then, on another topic, there are the unclean spirits, which may well be the sources of our own sins and regrettable actions, sickness and crazy behavior. It's nice to think, that truly with Christ's help, we can shed such demons, largely through faith. And isn't it true, how our own inner demons talk back… Leave us alone, what do we have to do with you, Son of God… But these are spirits separate from our own selves, separate from our realities, and sometimes maybe we just need convincing of that, to tell distractions to hit the road and bother us no more. Who might not feel, at least initially, some sadness about that, feeling a responsibility for having fallen in with or taken in the evil companion. Enough to make me cringe, anyway, and want to shout. But there you are, clean, and restored to your mind. Amazing.
And maybe you change.
Perhaps it's true of the whole of Talmud and Bible, but there is a tremendous literary quality, reality, aspect, talent to Jesus Christ. That I find reaffirming. His story is also one of realizing that.
It took me a long time to realize that for me being Christian and being literary were one and the same. That's why I went out into the world to do what I did. Which I did not do so perfectly but with, I don't know, suffering, shame, sin?, mistakes, foolishness, all those human things.