Today’s Mass reading from the Gospel of St. John told of the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes:
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Food, it has been said, is our most common nonverbal way of expressing love. We feed those we invite to our homes. Moreover, we put forward the best we have, not the leftovers from last week’s repast of Hamburger Helper. Not to offer any food or drink is an indirect way of saying I am either indifferent or hostile to you. You are at best an interruption to my preferences, and I look forward to your departure. Those who cross our threshold will get the message either way.
Several readers have remarked upon the frequency of eating scenes in my novels, especially those of the Futanari Saga. Gatherings among the characters nearly always involve food and drink. (Yet they aren’t grotesquely overweight. Praise God, a miracle! (:-)) The significance should not be lost, for those characters are nearly all animated by love: love of the Christian variety at the very least, and in several cases of the more intimate kinds as well.
The entire point of the saga was to depict love under challenging circumstances. For whose circumstances could be more difficult than my fictional futanari, excluded from both recognized sexes by an accident of genetics and unable to do anything about it? A brief passage from Innocents captures the essence of the thing:
Hallstrom sighed. “I wish I knew of a doctor or a nurse I could seduce into joining the school. Not many of our sort go into medicine, though.”
“Why do you suppose that is, Amanda?” Anna said.
“I haven’t the faintest idea, dear. I know of only one who went into one of the helping professions, a girl who works as a grief counselor in the Rhode Island schools.” She smiled faintly. “Perhaps we’re too wrapped up in our own concerns.”
“Easy enough to see how that can happen,” Juliette said.
“Not admirable, though,” Rowenna said. “Definitely not constructive. We want the rest of the world to see us as just like them, if not quite. That we’re children of God just as much as anyone else. But the few of us who’ve come out have almost all gone sex-toy. Playthings for wealthy Jap wankers who want lovers that look, smell, and feel like cute birds but come equipped with something hot and juicy to stuff up their—”
“Yes, of course, dear,” Hallstrom interjected. “You’re right, as much as it pains me to admit it. But all Athene can do with its students is educate them. We can’t reshape their characters. And to be perfectly fair, the typical futa does have quite a high hill to climb, what with the, ah, competition we face these days.”
“I just don’t get that,” Juliette murmured. “I don’t think I ever will.”
“It’s not always hard to understand, love,” Rowenna said. “Consider my Holly. Can you imagine her as anything but a woman?”
“I guess not,” Juliette said. “But she’s an exception.”
Rowenna smiled. “As are we, love. If there’s an important difference between her sort and ours, it’s emotional rather than physical. Surgery can deal with most of the bodily bits. What still matters that comes out the other end of that process are convictions and attitudes.”
“Self-image,” Celia murmured. “We look in our mirrors and see what God made us. We might like it and we might not, but most of us learn to accept it. They can’t accept what they see. They hate it and become obsessed with changing it, and these days they can. So they do.”
In contrast to contemporary transgendered persons, my futanari characters can do nothing whatsoever about their uniqueness, except learn to love and accept themselves. It’s a considerable challenge, made even more formidable by the existence of men of great wealth who value them for their unique bodies alone. Such men are among us today, as I discovered when I started to research the segment of the sex industry centered on transwomen.
But love of self answers only part of the human need for love. We also yearn for the love of others, and to love them in return. He who can’t get or give love tends to get sick and wither away. Lacking evidence that others value him, he tends not to value himself. The consequences are predictable.
And so, when those we love visit us, we respond with gifts of food. Oftentimes they bring a little something as well. The significance of the exchange goes far beyond matters of nutrition.
That human need for love deserves more attention than most give it. Other creatures have affinities that resemble love, but considerable ambiguity surrounds them, even in the nurturing of their young. Only in humans does love appear to be a survival requirement.
And herein lies a great mystery: Love would seem antithetical to survival, at least at microscale. For love motivates gifts, and to give is to deprive oneself. Yet humans do it all the time.
Love, however expressed and “accessorized,” weaves together every sort of association. Despite the seeming clash with isolated personal motivations, it’s present in all human structures, from the nuclear family to the nation. The need to love and to be loved appears to be integral to our natures.
Why is this attribute of Man not included in compendia of the miraculous? There’s no biological basis for it. It manifests between persons so different from one another that their sole shared characteristic is their humanity. It even manifests between humans and their pets, whether or not Spot or Felix can reciprocate it.
Creation itself is sufficiently mysterious to occupy legions of powerful minds for millennia, which is indeed what it has done. But this embedding in Mankind of love, the essence of God, is even more numinous. It points arrow-straight at the Creator Himself. For who else could have produced a sentient creature, inherently aware of his separateness from the rest of existence, yet filled with a need to be united with the whole – i.e., to love and be loved?
Miracles extend from the greatest of the galaxies to the smallest child. God’s love is in all of them.
May God bless and keep you all.