Preaching the Word

PREACHING THE WORD

MIRACLES HAPPEN

A Dominican Friar (priest) reflects on the message of the 5th Sunday in Ordinary time

Job 7:1-4, 6-7     1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23     Mark 1: 29-39

            On the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the gospel invites us to look at our belief in miracles.  When it comes to miracles, it seems to me that there are three prevailing outlooks. The first one is that miracles take place every day. People who have this outlook believe in the marvelous power of prayer. For them, Jesus Christ, the healer, is always present for those with sufficient faith. Prayer makes things happen. The words “Miracles Happen” express the outlook of these people.

            The second outlook is that miracles never happen. People who have this outlook believe in accepting reality and might pray for the strength to do so. For them, Jesus Christ, the redeemer, is the hope in which they place their trust. For these people, prayer is primarily an act of submission. The words “Stuff Happens” express the outlook of these people.

            The third outlook lies somewhere between the first and the second ones.  It is the outlook which is the operative spirituality for the gospel reading we hear today. Notice that Mark’s gospel does not want us to concentrate on the miracles that take place. Peter’s mother-in-law does not immediately jump up and go out to proclaim that a miracle has happened for her. Instead, she goes to work providing care for her family and hospitality for their guests. And Jesus does not remain to cure people he proceeds to the neighboring villages to proclaim the Good News. In Mark’s gospel, this emphasizes the fact that, “Yes, miracles do affect a few people” but more importantly salvation affects all people.

            A miracle is a vehicle of meaning, a sign, which challenges us for a personal response, invites us to conversion, and comforts us in our struggles. If I were to ask you, “Have your experienced a miracle?” What would be your response? “Well, of course!” “Well, I don’t know?” If at this moment you are living and breathing, then you are experiencing a miracle.

          On a clear night, step outside your home and look up into the sky. The vastness of the heavens is a miracle. Everything that you see in the heavens belongs to one galaxy. There are hundreds more beyond our own. Maybe thousands…some much larger than ours. But let’s not limit our miracle just to our own solar system…a tiny fraction of the universe above us. We would have to go 6,720 miles before we could arrive at the nearest star beyond our solar system. And this is just the first star among millions. All this in one galaxy among perhaps thousands, maybe billions of galaxies. And all of it in perpetual motion…perfectly synchronized…the most accurate timepiece known by us.

Don’t tell me miracles don’t happen! It is obvious that they do. Remember that for most of us a miracle is a vehicle of meaning, simply a sign, which challenges us for a personal response, invites us to conversion, and comforts us in our struggles.