Miracles Then and Now


Miracles Then and Now

July 25, 2021 | N W | Deacon Eddie, Eucharist, Faith, Grace, Healing, Mission, Saints

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 25, 2021 — Year B
Readings: 2 Kgs 4:42-44 / Ps 145 / Eph 4:1-6 / Jn 6:1-15
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

A well-known pastor and faith healer traveled around the country, going to various places, and doing revivals.  He came to town and he set up shop in a local church, and people came from all over the countryside, because they had heard of him.  He started his service, and people lined up to experience the healing that this man purportedly offered.

One man got in line and slowly made his way up to the front – a man named John.  When he got up to the front, the preacher looked at him and said, “My brother, what do you ask of the Lord today?”  The man said, “Preacher, I was hoping the Lord could help me with my hearing.”  The preacher said, “Have faith, my brother,” and he reached out and grabbed the man’s head on each side, holding his ears, and he began to pray, pray in tongues.  All the congregation started praying with him, the band was playing, and this went on and on.  And finally, the preacher said, “Silence!” and he looked at John and said, “How is your hearing now?”  And John said, “Preacher, I don’t know.  My court date is not until next week!”

Today our gospel reading features the story of a great miracle of Jesus – the feeding of the five thousand, the story of the loaves and fishes.  If I asked every Christian to tell me what are their favorite miracles, this one would be near the top of the list, because everybody has heard it.

But unfortunately, in our world today, the idea of miracles can rub some people the wrong way.  They are uncomfortable with this idea, and they attempt to explain them away.  Even some theologians attempt to address this miracle not as some miraculous change and expansion of matter, but a miracle of the softening of hearts.  They would argue that certainly these people did not come all this way without food, and Jesus used this young man, with his generosity, as a lesson for these people.  Then they shared, and that’s where all the food came from.

But that’s not what the Church says.  The Church stands firm in its belief in the miracles that are portrayed in the scriptures and in the existence of miracles today.  Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to belittle science.  The great advances that we have made in this day and age in medicine, in science, and in our understanding of the natural world come about because of our intellect, which was given to us by God.  And to make light of that is an insult to God; it’s a gift and we are expected to use it.

But we need to keep our minds open.  Sometimes we might not understand everything that is going on.  In fact, when the Church is trying to determine if someone has reached sainthood, they investigate reported miracles attributed to the intercession of this person.  They study them thoroughly; they look at the facts and evaluate them, and only then do they declare the person a saint.

We have to remember that, while we are bound by the laws that govern the world we live in, why would we possibly believe that God is bound by them?  Why would we not believe that He could choose, if He wanted to, to bend or break the rules when it served His purpose?

The people of Jesus’ time obviously did not look at what Jesus was doing as simply teaching.  They did not look at Him as just another rabbi.  Our gospel today makes that perfectly clear.  A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs He was performing on the sick.  And when they experienced this miracle, they were coming after Him to make Him king, because they believed He was a prophet sent by God.

Certainly, the early Christians believed in miracles.  Do you really think that so many of them would have readily gone to their death because they thought Jesus was just a good, righteous, moral person?  No, they believed He was the Son of God, and they believed that He had the power of God, and they believed that He used it.

We can learn a lot from this story about the way God uses his power in our world today.  You’ll notice that did not simply call down manna from Heaven like Moses had done.  He reached out to the people around Him and took what was there, and through the generosity of this boy, He brought about this miracle.  Today, we are called upon to cooperate in the work of God as we live out our day-to-day lives.

Also notice: When that boy made that small gift, it was multiplied many, many, many times.  Not just to fulfill the need of the people there, but with plenty left over, because that’s the way God works.  No one can outgive God.  I invite you to try to do it.

Finally, this miracle, this story, that we read about in the gospel today, should remind you of the miracle which takes place at each and every Mass right there on the altar, where simple bread and wine are transformed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  You see the same things happening – Father stands in persona Christi (in place of Christ) and receives the gifts that are brought forward.  He lifts them up and prays, “Blessed are You, God of all Creation.  For through Your goodness, we receive the bread we offer You, fruit of the earth and work of human hands” – a gift brought forward to be multiplied.

When we receive that gift back, it is multiplied again.  We receive the grace of the sacrament, not so much for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all those we meet in our day-to-day lives.  When we go forth, after the Mass is ended, we are taking that grace out into the world, because Jesus miraculously changed the lives of the people around Him when He walked the earth.  He continues to do it today, and if we open our hearts and minds to Him, He will do the same.  All we have to do is say, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

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