As people of faith, we believe God cares for us—cares for our needs, comforts us in sorrow, sustains us in loving-kindness and mercy. Believing, however, is not always seeing. I am reminded of this when I look at Justino Magalona’s Miracle of Fish and Bread. We don’t always “see the hand of God” guiding us as we work through difficult times, but we trust that God is there, somehow working in the background to help carry us through. “It was like a miracle!” we may say. Belief in the power of God is like a miracle. And sometimes we see the world differently as a result.
In Magalona’s painting, two fish are right up front, easy to see, no miracles required. “But what good are these for so many?” A closer look, though, and we see the miracle. In the hands of Christ, what seems inadequate becomes abundance. Looking even more closely at the image, a pair of hands is visible, holding a loaf—or many loaves.
The crowd that day on the hill by the Sea of Galilee must have participated in the miracle somehow as they passed the fish and the loaves. How did it happen? We cannot know. It was a miracle. We only believe that Jesus was handed a couple of fish and a few barley loaves. He gave thanks for what little was there and, believing in God’s loving-kindness, distributed that scarceness to the crowd. In his hands, and in theirs, it became abundance. We don’t know exactly how it happened. Believing is not always seeing. But as people of faith, we know that believing often helps us see.
Visit www.justino.pixieset.com to see more of Justino Magalona’s art and photography.
Ælred Senna, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and associate editor of Give Us This Day.
Miracle of Fish and Bread (detail) by Justino Magalona.
© Justino Magalona. www.justino.pixieset.com. Used with permission.