It is said that Jesus, at one stage of his journeyings "came nigh unto the sea of Galilee, and went up into a mountain, and sat down there." He was accompanied by his disciples, and thousands of men, women and children who had come to listen to him preach. Now we must bear in mind that there was not the kind of service infrastructure that we are accustomed to having in modern times. There were no ice-cream stalls, beer tents, burgher bars or the rest. Yet all those people went up the mountain with ne'er, or very little, thought of the consequences. Are we supposed to think that their children were so different from today's kids that they wouldn't get hungry or thirsty? Did no-one say, "Mum, I'm hungry?" "Mum, Rachel's got some sweets, and she won't let me have one?" "Dad, are we there yet?" Oh come on!
In the Matthew (Chap.15, verse 32) version - one of six tellings of the 'feeding of the multitude' stories - Jesus said that he had compassion on the multitude, because they continued with him for three days, and had nothing to eat. Well you know the rest of the story I'm sure. The disciples collected all the available food, a single digit number of loaves and a few fishes. Amazingly, this meagre collection was shared out amongst the thousands waiting. Not only that, but there were baskets full of leftovers. Some miracle!
Of course, there have been many interpretations advanced for this miracle, some based on worthy but personal agendas. And the the story is full of interesting symbolism. Yet for all that there are many who choose to believe this story as literal truth. The psycho-spiritual investment in that belief must be enormous to maintain that belief in the face of all that is reasonable, is of reason. In case it should be concluded that this kind of belief is the preserve of the religious, let me now turn to another miracle. It goes something like this.
All the atoms and their subatomic particles, and all the quanta of energy that are contained within the billions of stars that make up all the trillions of galaxies in the observable universe - not to mention the major portion of the universe consisting of Dark Matter and Dark Energy - came into being in the tiniest fraction of a second, from a singularity of infinitely small dimensions (actually a singularity cannot have dimensions) 13.7 billion years ago, give or take! Now that is some kind of a miracle, and one which is believed by millions of people. Once again, we see a huge investment in scientific authority, just as the religious have invested in religion and the Church. (I use the word Church in its widest possible meaning.)
So, is the rest of humanity who does not follow the edicts of the Church and/or Science off the hook? Not on your life! In countries which have democratic institutions, we have the right to elect politicians to perform social and economic miracles. That we vote those people into positions of power for reasons that are often self-contradictory appears to escape the notice of many people. Yes, we want more benefits and greater security: No, we don't want our taxes increased. Yes, we need more homes, roads and other facilities built: No, we don't want them in our back yards. Yes, we want less pollution: No we're not prepared to accept the cost and inconvenience. The list goes on and on, and yes, this is a somewhat simplistic picture that I have painted.
Yet it seems to me to be true that the kind of psycho-spiritual investments to which I have alluded blinds us to the illusory nature of our perceptions and our many denials. Somewhere along the way we need the child who, free of preconceptions, will unabashedly say,
"Look at the King! Look at the the King! Look at the King, the King, the King!
The King is in the all together
But all together the all together
He's all together as naked as the day that he was born."
Oh to be free of all illusion, and see the naked truth in all its glory. And now, having served its purpose, perhaps I can be freed from this ear worm.