Top Banner

According to today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 14:13-21) ‘about five thousand men, besides women and children’ were fed from five loaves and two fish. Can that be true? Is that really possible? It was a miracle. What are miracles? Do they really happen? Do they matter?

Miracles are events that cannot be explained but they are not value neutral. If all your friends died inexplicably one night you would rightly regard that as something very terrible. But if all of the people you dislike died inexplicably one night, you might be tempted to regard that as a miracle. Miracles have good consequences – at least from the point of view of the miracle-ascriber! The point about miracles is that they are bizarre, frightening even. By definition, they are inexplicable and for many people they are also deeply problematical.

However, it is perfectly possible to take Christianity seriously and try to live in accordance with Jesus’ teaching whilst having nothing whatever to do with miracles. Or you can rationalise them, explain them away. Or, you can take them at their face value - this doesn’t mean reading them as scientific or historical accounts, but as attempts to convey a sense of awe and wonder. The value of miracles lies not in what actually happened but in what they mean. In this way miracles cease to be obstacles and instead become doorways to the sacred

Miracles always lead us somewhere. We should be on the lookout for them, open to new sources of wonder and awe, ready to have our breath taken away.

Despite the profound problems and challenges of the present time, the world is a glorious place, holy, brimming with meaning – and it would therefore be very surprising if the miraculous weren’t all around us. Be alert and alive to it!

Ian Williams.