Miracles of Christ aren’t just for the history books

Jesus raises Jarius’ daughter from the dead in this 1871 painting by Vasiliy Polenov.

Jesus raises Jarius’ daughter from the dead in this 1871 painting by Vasiliy Polenov.

As we continue the season of Ordinary Time, many Gospel readings at Mass focus on the teachings and miracles of Jesus. Sometimes it can be easy for us to think of these miracles as far removed from our own lives, as wonderful things that God did in the past, but that happen seldom if at all anymore. Why is it so important for us to remember miracles that Jesus performed 2,000 years ago but that seem to have little bearing on our lives now?

The Scriptures are not a history book; they are the “living and effective” word of God (Hebrews 4:12).  The miracles Jesus performed during His earthly life do indeed impact our lives even today. This Sunday, we hear about the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage (Mark 5: 21-43). In both of these cases, Jesus cited faith as what saved and brought life-giving healing to those involved. We, too, can hear Jesus say to us today, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mark 5:36b).

If we do not see miracles happening frequently today, perhaps that is because we have decided that they surely must no longer occur. The Lord will never force Himself open us, and He has left us the ability to shut ourselves off to receiving His loving and healing grace. Perhaps there are fewer miracles in our day and age because we have lost the courage to ask confidently for them.

But it is also true that we sometimes miss the great miracles that happen right before our eyes. For instance, what miracle could be greater than bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Our Lord?  And yet, with the eyes of faith, we witness this miracle at every Mass. Or what about the miracle of a soul stained with sin being cleansed and renewed in the grace of Christ? We receive this miracle personally whenever we avail ourselves of the sacrament of reconciliation. These and all the sacraments are the means by which Christ communicates His life to us now, just as — and in an even more powerful way than — He did through His teachings and miracles to those with whom He lived 2,000 years ago.

The greatest miracle that Jesus performed, and the greatest proof of His divinity, was His resurrection from the dead. Through this saving miracle, we receive the ability to participate in the life of God. And that the God-man should desire to give us a share in His own life — is that not enough of a miracle of love for us to approach Him with faith? May we never take for granted the miracles that God is performing now in our lives.

Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.