Saturday, July 25, 2015

Did Jesus really work miracles or are they just pious tales?

Did Jesus really work miracles or are they just pious tales?

In this Sunday's Gospel John 6: 1-5, we hear of Jesus feeding the multitude of 5,000 people with just two fish and five loaves of bread. If that’s hard for you to imagine, you’re not alone. Are the amazing stories we hear in scripture miracles that really happened, or are they just pious tales? 

The following is an excerpt from a segment on this very subject that I did awhile back on Living Bread Radio’s Faith with Father.

…As Catholics, we know and truly believe –and I know from within my own life, that Jesus was and IS a miracle worker. Skeptics question the multiplication of the fish and loaves; they dismiss it as symbolic, that the multiplication of the loaves and fish was really more of a miracle of people deciding to share their food. But to those skeptics, I say -and more importantly so does the Church, that this was a miracle. In fact, the Miracle of the Multiplication is an important one, with the exception of the Resurrection -it is the only miracle to appear in all four Gospels.

Aside from the fish and loaves, we see many other miracles throughout Scripture. Jesus constantly performed miracles - He healed the sick, He raised the dead to new life, He gave sight to the blind… the amazing thing is that having done all of this, when Jesus commissions the disciples to baptize He says to them, “You will do these things, and even greater things.

In fact paragraph 90 of the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church), tells us that Jesus really did work miracles and so did the Apostles. The New Testament authors referred to real incidents throughout the Acts of the Apostles. Peter just walked by people and in his shadow they were healed. Why? Because he's living his life in Christ and the miracles actually become a revelation for us of knowing God.

The miracles in Scripture are to help us who are weak in faith to come to believe. Even the oldest sources tell of numerous miracles; the raising of the dead is a confirmation of Jesus’ preaching, and we hear in Matthew 12: 28 ”but if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” So these miracles are showing that the Kingdom of God IS here.

You mustn’t forget that Jesus was performing the majority of His miracles in the open. So, He wasn't just doing these by himself -unseen. They took place in public and they involved people that were known by name and by the community, and it forever changed their lives. In Mark:10, there’s the blind man, Bartimaeus, who was given sight. Even Peter's own mother-in-law was healed. There's the miracles that in some Jewish circles were considered shocking and outrageous, such as Jesus curing the crippled man on the Sabbath. Jesus performed all of these miracles and they were seen, and witnessed, and evidenced by people -they really happened, and they continue to happen to this very day.

We all experience and are witness to the Father’s miracles in one form or another. For me, I was on an eight day retreat with Monsignor Esseff (look him up, he’s got a website called Building the Kingdom of Love). Anyway, Monsignor Esseff’s spiritual director was a man by the name of Padre Pio, who was also the spiritual director for Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. So Monsignor told me on this retreat that we're to experience miracles in our lives not as something extraordinary- it's God's grace in breaking in His Kingdom, and so not only were they very real for Jesus in this time but they're real for us in our time -they still happen today.

Monsignor Esseff went on to tell us about how he got to know Padre Pio, and said that the most intimate moment he ever shared with him was celebrating Mass together. At this particular Mass, with over a thousand people in attendance, Padre Pio holds up the Body of Christ, and the Monsignor is watching as blood suddenly begins to pour from Padre Pio’s hands and drip down onto the floor. Today we know Padre Pio for this stigmata. But as this was happening, Monsignor Esseff was witnessing evidence of a miracle - from the old ladies going around with their Kleenex trying to blot up the blood, to his blood soaked Alb.

Padre Pio

Monsignor Esseff & I After Retreat

After Monsignor told us this, he went on to talk about some of the other miracles in the Gospel and how they are still relevant today. Now I was with another priest and we kind of jokingly said, “Monsignor have you ever walked on water?” And he responds, “No, but I've levitated a couple of times in prayer.” So we’re all looking at him like, “Yeah, right. ” And in all seriousness he continues, “I didn't like it, because you become discombobulated and you don't know what's going on. One time it happened in front of people, and I didn’t like the feeling, I just wanted to be normal. So I said, 'please God no more, no more, I don't want any more of this levitation!'

I share the story because miracles are meant to be shared, to help us really believe that God is working and God is here. And as Monsignor Esseff said to me, “if God were to work a miracle in your life, wouldn't you want that to happen if it would bring about faith in more people - to help people believe and to believe ourselves.

Jesus worked the miracles that He did to show that He was and IS the Son of God. So not only did he speak it, but he showed it -and in these very actions, Christ reveals His power over all of creation.

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