Saturday, July 28, 2018

Philip’s Fishes

Too late, Philip catches a glimpse of the glimmer in the Master’s eye. His response to the question escapes his mouth before he realized the question being asked was deeper than the words that carried it. It was a question that arose not from a question, but from the answer.

“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”

It’s true. It’s not wrong. But Philip wonders if this little line has reduced him a stock character in a proof-text. His small verbal contribution will only serve as a convenient piece of eye-witness evidence to illustrate the greatness of the Master’s deed. Philip’s calculations have succinctly tallied for posterity the size of crowd the Answer can now feed with just two fresh fish and five small loaves.

Philip’s heart is somewhat heavy within him. He is not overly attached to pragmatism, and did not intend to come off as an unimaginative skeptic:

Don’t do, this, please. You always do. You pose the question, and I always get it wrong. I realize that the answer you were looking for wasn’t calculation, but I realize that too late. And before you know it, someone else is marching up with their right answer in the form of loaves and fishes. I get the point is not to find solutions, but who you find them with. With whom, I mean. With whom you find them. Where it is you seek them. The origin of the solution, and its final end are not immaterial.

Perhaps I am too clever. I am surprised, over and over again that the answer to your questions never change. Love is too consistent and dependable a reality for man to expect. Your question must be a trick this time, finally. This is the gotcha moment I knew would come. You must understand: we are only human, and shocked by the lack of surprises. Is this what faith is? To be surprised by your consistency? To offer two small fish and five loaves barely worthy of the name—my own small attempt at solutions—to you?

I wished I had responded, in answer to your question, with a word that had expressed no other Word but you.

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