Thursday, April 28, 2016

"what makes a person whole"

Turn on the news, scan your social media, or flip open a newspaper and your bound to find a miracle 
that will both inspire and move you. Someone survives a three-lane rollover, a tornado takes an odd turn at the last moment, inexplicably sparing a mother and her infant child who lay in wait - a short, few feet away. Even now on Facebook the "Missouri Miracle" is again making the rounds - an ABC News Story that aired back in June 2015 about a man who appeared out of nowhere and began praying as workers tried to extricate a woman from a crushed vehicle, then suddenly disappearing after the rescue, even from the photos taken at the crash scene that day.

Perhaps, an ailing family member or friend is suddenly released from the grips of an illness that doctors said was incurable, or maybe a loved one receives a transplant at the last possible moment, when death is imminent.  We open the Bible and find countless documented miracles performed by our Lord as He healed the sick,  raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, cured the lepers, or cast out demons. It is in these remarkable events - be they Biblical or contemporary that so many us reach - seeking some level of reassurance that can buttress our faith. Yet, for a great many, these miracles are simply too few and far between and in that "void" of perpetual miraculous "events" so many can, and often do, have their faith tested.

And therein lies the great victory for Satan, for in the misdirection of our minds and hearts towards the GRAND miracles instead of the great miracles, he is able to distract us just long enough - even if only momentarily, towards a misstep.  For when we look for the GRAND, instead of the great, we open ourselves to the potential for doubt, despair, or hesitation, and when we do, we allow our God to become smaller than who He truly is. Even the great Saints are not immune to the such, as John the Baptist - himself the cousin of our Lord Jesus Christ and the one to announce Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) - was overcome with doubt while sitting in prison, thus sending his disciples to ask Jesus "are you the one who is to come, or are we to look for another?" (Luke 7:19).

As human beings with a genuinely limited understanding of God ("my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways...for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways" - Isaiah 55:8-9), we so often fail to see the most obvious of what God tries to teach us. Consider Jesus' journey into the desert, a pilgrimage that tested both the fully divine and fully human natures of His person. Fasting for 40 days, our Lord is tempted by Satan, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread". Jesus refuses the GRAND miracle of His divinity and provides instead the great miracle of his humanity saying "it is written, One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God". Challenged again by Satan to perform the GRAND miracle of His divinity, Satan challenges Jesus to throw himself off of the parapet of the temple to see if his angels would save him (Matthew 4:5-6). Here too, our Lord chooses the great miracle of his humanity and responds: “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test" (Matthew 4:7). 

So often we focus on the GRAND when thinking of God, that we fail to see that which is truly great about God, and that is His humanity. Of all the miracles that Christ performed, His greatest miracles were not those that brought the dead back to life, or gave sight to the blind, for those miracles - GRAND though they may be for us, are not spectacular for God, because...well...He is after-all God... and thus, He can do anything. No, the great miracles performed by God, were those performed by His presence in the Son, through His truly human nature.  His greatest miracles came in the forgiveness He offered to the woman caught in adultery, the hope He gave to the woman at the well, the love He extended to sinners - the likes of Matthew and Zacchaeus, Peter who denied Him 3 times, or the Centurion whose servant was sick.

We learn from the great miracles performed by Christ, not the GRAND ones, that the greatest power on earth rests within our human hearts, and that power enables us to perform great miracles every day; miracles that free the captive, restore life, and repair brokenness. Jesus taught us that Forgiveness is what sets a person free, Hope is what gives a person life, and Love is what makes a person whole.

And these are the very miracles we are working to deliver everyday as Missionaries of Mercy. Yes, despite our own personal sinfulness, we are all temples of God, for He dwells within us and as such we each have the capacity to perform the great miracles.