RCL Year A, Proper 13
Psalm 145:8-9 and 15-22, Isaiah 55:1-2, Saint Matthew 14:13-21
Within the short span of a week, three casualties to the coronavirus became available and open again. We’re having services. Baseball, basketball, and hockey are attempting to return. The gym and its locker rooms opened more fully. But in all of these things, we have a lot that is different. Our service is Morning Prayer not the Eucharist. Baseball games are being played, but the stands are empty. The gym is open, but a temperature check and mandatory masks are required of everyone passing through the door.
These differences have made me wonder. When the Eucharist was the order of the day here, when baseball games had tens of thousands of fans, and when going to the gym involved a simple identity check, was I wrong to think that the world was more or less coöperating with God, that God was doing what God does and promises, and that we were doing likewise? The changes we’re undergoing make me wonder if I was complacent or just misunderstood God’s relationship to the world.
Time was we would have the miracle of the loaves and the two fish as the Gospel of the Eucharist. And we would proudly connect the miracle of the feeding with the miracle of the mass. But that, for the time being, is a connection we cannot draw unless we are willing to acknowledge that what we’re doing today is something lesser.
Do the changes that we’re experiencing certify a different relationship with God? Or are they only what we have to do to drive out the virus?
My answer is this. The miracle of the loaves and the fish was a miracle then and is a miracle now. It’s a miracle God and God alone can perform. Jesus performing it reveals that he is God. God is still being God, doing what God does and fulfilling the promises as always. We can rely on God as we always could.
For our part, the miracle of the loaves and the fish reminds us that God is still being God. We do not connect it to the miracle of the mass, but we see that Morning Prayer has its own way of reminding us of all of God’s miracles including the miracle of the mass. That reminder of miracles keeps us connected to God. We hear the story, the story of God and the chosen people, and we know that we are part of that story. We give thanks that we are part of that story.
A lot remains the same. God and the story remain the same, but our perspective has changed. We see things differently. We wonder, and we ponder. We have a story to tell and a mission to fulfill, as we always had. But now we have a virus to drive out.