Going back over the “loaves and fishes” stories once again, I realized that I had glossed over something very important. When Jesus says to his disciples, “you feed them,” does he really mean it? Is he just joking? Here is another puzzle in the loaves and fishes stories: Does Jesus really expect that Peter (generally portrayed as a clueless and rough fisherman in the New Testament), Mariam (the woman from Magdala who was Jesus’ wealthy sponsor), and Matthew (the wily tax collector despised by his victims) are going to be able to feed crowds of thousands? The disciples protest – “But there are too many people !!! It would cost too much !!! da-da-da !!!” If Jesus had had that reaction, maybe he wouldn’t have accomplished anything either. But he took a different approach – he acted from his Divine center or the peace-filled center of his awareness. He worked with what he had at hand. Would Jesus expect you and me to do likewise?
“You do it.”
The implication is, “You can.” You can transform your life.
I admit it is very nice to hear these words from 2,000 years ago, or was it a moment ago?
There is a parallel in the passage, “Those who come after me will do even greater things.” (paraphrase John 14:12).
Another puzzle: I have also noticed that Jesus did not make it so no one would ever again forget to bring lunch. Nor did he eliminate hunger on Earth. He did not modify the human genome so there would be no more wars fueled by testosterone and greed. He did not eliminate illness or the human condition. Not necessary? Are health, peace, justice, eliminating poverty, and saving the Planet necessary? I dunno. But I sure wish someone would fix the world.
Apparently it was necessary for the crowds with Jesus to have bread. What is the “daily bread” necessary to my life? I feel I should know the answer to this. What is really necessary? Above and beyond just following my path, rocky and strewn with potholes as it is?
“Do greater things.”
HEALING THE INNER LANDSCAPE
There is a very interesting Gospel story of Jesus healing a man with palsy, especially if you take the time to read the four parallel Gospel accounts side-by-side to note the differences.
In Mark, the healing takes place in Jesus’ own house. In John, at a healing pool.
Compare Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26, John 5:1-9 (RSV) with one click.
Interesting that Mark has, “And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home.” So this gathering is at the home of Jesus, not just in his home town (at least many translations seem to indicate that). So when the four men remove part of the roof to lower the sick man in front of Jesus, they have ruined Jesus’ roof, at least temporarily.
Interesting that the man just healed had no problem making his way through the crowd to leave, whereas before, in Mark and Luke, the crowd had been so dense that he had to make his entry via the roof.
Who are these people blocking the way to Jesus in Mark and Luke, and who are the people in John (verse 4 consigned to a footnote) who use up the healing power in the Sheep Gate pool every time the water is stirred up, so that the sick man never gets healed?
Perhaps the crowds of people who prevent healing represent the thoughts crowding into one’s mind that thwart that sense of peace and resultant wellness one might otherwise have.
In the case of the paralytic, it would seem that his lack of peace was due to his undue focus on his “sins,” his lack of forgiveness for himself, his criticism and condemnation of himself. Rather he should have had compassion for himself, and he should have had gratitude for all the life circumstances where he had sinned, as that taught him so well. We are all learners and we are here in this life to learn. So gratitude is a very appropriate response.
Jesus healed the man by teaching him the value of forgiving himself in order to find peace in his inner landscape. Self-forgiveness requires a courageous attitude. In Matthew, Jesus says, “Take heart, my son.” But actually the man had initiated his own healing by finding a way to circumvent the “crowd,” or his four friends had found a way – through the roof. That was a courageous and daring move as certainly they risked being criticized for doing that.
It is not just focus on “sin” that can be a cause of dis-ease, but any warped point of view such as going to the extreme of constantly being the good one, the strong one, the selfless one, the obedient one. What sort of stress would that put on a person? Maybe it would make the person paralyzed with fear that he could not take a step without risking censure or being a supposed “failure.”
Or what about a religion that has as one of its main tenets that we are all miserable failures headed towards hell, and that the great god must be appeased with a bloody sacrifice, else “he” will harm us? Wouldn’t such a belief system mess up someone’s mind? Jesus taught love. Not fear of angry-god. Constant fear can immobilize a person.
Certainly a mind deluged with the garbage that comes out of a TV would be “crowded” with all sorts of undesirable thoughts.
In the stories, Jesus represents the Higher Self that we all have. It is our Divine connection. (Or we could say he is an example of someone truly in touch with the Kin_dom within himself and within others.) The sick man is trying to connect with his own Higher Self but is prevented in doing so by his own disordered mind which is “crowded” with regrets and recriminations and false notions. Upon realizing that is the source of his dis-ease, the man regains his inner peace and his own connection to the Divine. By reaching his own Higher Self, the man regains dominion over his own inner life, and thus, he is able to pass through the “crowd” he could not navigate earlier. Getting acquainted with one’s Self and one’s inner landscape would have to be a prerequisite to healing.
In the Synoptics, Jesus tells the healed man to return home. And in Matthew and Luke we find he did go home. The man who was healed walks “home” to a place where he has dominion, which is anywhere he is, now that he is healed, just as Jesus sets the example of being “at home” and having dominion there, despite a hole in his roof.
The man at the healing pool was waiting for some outer circumstance to change. Then with the arrival of Jesus, representing the Higher Self, the man was able to heal, with no change in the outer, only the inner.
In all four accounts Jesus tells the man to take up his bed or pallet.
The insistence that the man carry away his bed or pallet seems odd, maybe an injunction against littering and leaving an unsightly, old, smelly, flea-ridden mattress at the scene.
But maybe more is going on here.
Perhaps the bed or pallet represents the illness due to dis-ease, and the memory of this is not something to be left behind; rather, it is something to carry always as a reminder of what has been learned, so as to not ever forget.
I like to think about Jesus’ voice – so loud and clear that the men on the roof had no trouble pinpointing Jesus’ location before they took the roof apart. That strong voice could penetrate and draw out even the worst of dis-ease and replace it with Light.
In Mark 5:27, “She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.” Again, the hurdle is a getting through a crowd.
But in Luke 19:3, “And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature.” This is the guy who climbed a tree to get a better view of Jesus.
In Luke 8:19, “Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd.” Doesn’t say much for the mother and sibs that they didn’t know how to climb a tree or remove a roof or slip through a crowd.
When Jesus proclaims his Divine connection, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” the villagers attempt to throw him off a cliff, but Jesus passes through the crowd unharmed. “But passing through the midst of them he went away.” (Luke 4:30) So does this mean that Jesus’ own mind rejected the idea of Jesus’ divinity, but Jesus was not affected by that reasoning?
The crowd tries to block the flow of divinity: “The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent; but they cried out the more, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’” (Matthew 20:31) And so they were healed.
Matthew 9:25, “But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.” Great things can happen when that “crowd” disperses.
The only brambles which truly impede your progress are those in your own mind. But I have to ask if there is always a path through the brambles or a way around them. Order in apparent disorder.
Matthew 9:8: “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” Not authority given to a man, but to all.
In John, the healing happens on the Sabbath. Healing can happen any time, even in ways not approved by those who think they know how it should happen.
Posted: July 1, 2016