Eyes of faith are needed to see miracles around us

| Father Michael Van Sloun For The Catholic Spirit | October 6, 2010 | 0 Comments

Jesus healing

St. James church in Duluth displays this depiction of Jesus curing the sick. Phote Courtesy Father Michael Van Sloun

What is a miracle?

A miracle is a fantastic, unexplainable occurrence that defies the rules of science or exceeds normal human capacity.

Miracle recognition

The eyes of faith are needed to see a miracle. Without faith, a phenomenal happening might be explained merely as a stroke of good luck or “the way the world works.”

Believers, on the other hand, see the power of God behind all that is great and awesome. There are no mighty deeds where there is no faith (Mark 6:5,6).

Who performs miracles?

Every person of the triune God works miracles, either alone or together: the Father, the Creator; Jesus, the son of God, who did signs and wonders in his Father’s name; and the Holy Spirit, the power of God and the breath of life.

Miracles are also mediated by God’s agents, those who do mighty deeds in God’s name with the power that God provides: angels, apostles and saints, as well as ordinary people, both in former ages and in the present day.

The purpose of miracles

Miracles are a demonstration of the infinite power and glory of God.

Miracles of the Old Testament

The greatest miracle is creation itself, a miracle of epic proportions (Genesis 1-2). Other miracles in­clude the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army (Exodus 7-14).

Miracles that look ahead

A number of the miracles of Elisha prefigure the miracles of Jesus:  Elisha’s raising of the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:32-36) anti­ci­pates Jesus’ raising of the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17); Elisha’s multiplication of the 20 barley loaves to feed 100 (2 Kings 4:44-44) foreshadows Jesus’ multiplication of the five loaves to feed 5,000 (Luke 9:12-17); and Elisha’s cure of Naa­man the leper (2 Kings 5) prefigures Jesus’ cure of the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19).

The miracles of the Gospels
Jesus is the greatest of all miracle workers. He demonstrated super­human capability when it came to the four things that terrified people the most: the forces of na­ture, demons, sickness and death.

Jesus calmed the storm at sea and walked on the water; he exorcised a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue in Capernaum, healed the Gerasene demoniac and cured a convulsive boy with a mute and deaf unclean spirit; he cured the blind and the lame, paralytics and hemophiliacs; and he raised the widow of Nain’s son, Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus.

The purpose of Jesus’ miracles

Jesus’ mighty deeds prove that he was sent by God (John 5:36b; Acts 2:22), that he and the Father are one (John 10:38), that he is the promised Messiah (Luke 7:18-22), and that the kingdom of God has arrived.

Miracles are intended to lead to belief and strengthen faith. When Jesus changed the water into wine, “His disciples began to believe in him” (John 2:11), and as Jesus performed more and more signs, “Many of the crowd began to believe in him” (John 7:31).

Miracles are granted so the person will be able to complete an unfinished part of God’s plan, as when Peter’s mother-in-law was cured so she could resume her service (Mark 1:31).

Miracles of the New Testament

“Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles” (Acts 5:12).  For instance, Peter cured the paraly­tic Aeneas (Acts 9:32-35) and he raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-43); Philip cured the paralyzed and the crippled (Acts 8:7b); and Paul cured a crippled man (Acts 14:8-10) and raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:7-12).

Miracles over the centuries

In every generation over the history of the church, there have been saints who have performed great and mighty deeds.

The Blessed Mother Mary stands above all other saints, and she is well known for the healing miracles of Fatima. St. Francis of Assisi cured a leper and St. Anthony of Padua cured epileptics and raised a young man form the dead. Miracles are so characteristic of saints that proof of a miracle through the saint’s intercession is necessary for beatification, and proof of a second miracle is needed for canonization.

Miracles never cease

We are surrounded by miracles. Every  new day is a miracle. Ask the parents of a newborn, and most will say their child is a miracle. There also have been instances of people with serious or terminal illnesses who were told by their doctors that their condition was terminal, only to recover without a scientific explanation.

Do not undersell yourself

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these” (John 14:12). We are the hands and feet of Jesus, and he needs us here to perform great and mighty deeds of all kinds in his name.

Father Van Sloun is pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka.

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