Literal or Literary (and a smidgen about Transfiguration for that upcoming Sunday)
I confessâ€¦I hesitate about taking miracles literally. Jesus lived in a â€œpre-scientificâ€ world. If something couldnâ€™t be explained, it was labeled a miracle. Additionally, others beside Jesus were considered â€œmiracle workers.â€
And, literarily speaking, many of Jesusâ€™ miracles were parallels with the Jewish/Hebrew literature. Manna from heaven fed Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. Of course the Gospel writers wanted Jesus to have a â€œmiraculousâ€ feeding, also in the wilderness, also with a group of people.
Or this . . . Jesus was transfigured on the mountaintop. Moses (yes, him again) and Elijah make a token appearance. As Jesusâ€™ face glows, isnâ€™t this really a literary reference to Moses the lawgiver after heâ€™s been in the Holy presence? Once, after being â€œexposedâ€ to Holy, Mosesâ€™ skin glowed. It was enough to cause the Israelites to request that the old lawgiver veil his face. Jesus and Moses demonstrated that even sunscreen with a high SPF wonâ€™t matter if you hang around God.
Iâ€™m cynical, wary and a skeptic. Yup, thatâ€™s me.
Still, in literal or literary way, Iâ€™m thankful for the presence of the miracles. I am more â€œcomfortableâ€ imagining the feeding of the five thousand was about people sharing food or that Jesusâ€™ bright face was another variation of the faithful storytellerâ€™s belief that light overcomes darkness or . . .
But just a bit of me, skeptic that I am, ignores rational explanations and remembers: not everything can be explained. That unsettles me. Miracles unsettle me . . . they are a Holy rug yanked from under my self-assured, logical legs. And that feeling is sometimes where and how my faith is best nurtured.