Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Quite a few hands went up.
“Keep your hands up,” he said, “now hands up those who went to Fatima, Knock or any other Holy Shrine!”
A few more hands went up.
“OK …” continued the priest, “hands down. Now hands up again anyone who has had a miracle happen to them at any of these places!”
No hands went up.
The priest waited a few seconds and then continued.
“Just as I thought! No one considers that a miracle has happened to them. Which of course begs the question; Do miracles happen these days?
“The truth is that miracles do happen these days; but people are not willing to believe in them.
“Perhaps they expect spectacular miracles to happen … Raising of the dead. Walking on water, changing water into wine … now that was a good one!
“Anything less than that and our Faith has not been stimulated enough to even consider it as a miracle, let alone believe it has happened.”
He stopped once again, as he usually did in his sermons, to allow the challenge to sink into the parishioners’ minds.
“I’d like us to consider for a while what is a miracle and who actually performs it when it happens.
“Spectacular miracles, as you would wish them to be, like healings from incurable illnesses and diseases do happen at Lourdes and elsewhere even today. There is plenty of documented evidence if you wish to research it.
“Many people have been healed suddenly with no explanation from medical or scientific sources. They remain unexplained and are accepted as miracles performed at the many Shrines visited by the sick person.
“Miracles happen elsewhere too … not just at these Shrines. Miracles can happen in churches, hospitals or even at your homes … if it is the will of God that they should happen.
“This then leads to the second question. Who performs these miracles?
“Is it Our Lady, the Mother of God at Lourdes or her other Shrines? Is it the particular Saint you happen to be praying to for help? Or is it God?
“And when we pray to individuals before they become Saints for a particular favor, or miracle even … like Padre Pio, Pere Charbel, and so on before they were made Saints by the Vatican … who performed the miracles do you think? Was it the particular person prayed to or was it God?
“Isn’t it after all the performance of miracles, or the answers to prayers, one of the tests which our Church considers as a requirement to Sainthood?”
He paused yet again.
“There are those who say that only God or Jesus can perform miracles; and to pray to Saints, or even people who have not even yet been considered as Saints, is wrong.
“Let me read you something from Acts of the Apostles … you can look it up yourselves at Acts 3.
“You’ll remember that as Peter and John went into the Temple to pray they met a man at The Beautiful Gate, as it was called, who had been lame all his life.
“The beggar expected money from the two apostles. Peter turned to him and said, ‘I don’t have silver or gold. But what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk!’ And of course the man was healed.
“Later on in Acts 5 Verse 12 we read that many miracles were performed by the apostles. Sick people lay in the streets so that Peter’s shadow would fall upon them and heal them. And indeed many were healed.
“The important thing to note here is that Peter said ‘in the name of Jesus Christ get up and walk.’
“So yes … the apostles whilst they walked this earth, and now they are in Heaven, can and do perform miracles; they have not lost their ability to perform miracles, in the name of Jesus, just because they’re in Heaven.
“And so does Our Lady perform miracles in the name of her Son Jesus. As do Padre Pio, Pere Charbel and many other Saints. But they do so in the name of Jesus. It is very important to remember that.”
Father Ignatius stopped once again having pressed his point home.
“And now we move on to our last question,” he said, “for today at least!
“What role does our Faith has to play in the performance of miracles?
“Jesus said time and again to the sick, ‘Your Faith has healed you. Your Faith has saved you.’
“He did not say, ‘Wait … let me click my fingers and hey presto you’ll be healed … Because I’m great at miracles!’ ”
The congregation laughed. The priest continued.
“He made a point of saying that the people’s Faith played a great part in their healing and in their salvation.
“The sick did not stay at home and think ‘Oh well … if Jesus wants to heal me, He’ll do so in good time … I don’t need to go and see Him!’
“They went out to seek Him. They believed in this man who was different. A holy man, a teacher, a healer, the Son of God.
“They had heard about Him, and now He’s in their town or village they went out to find Him … in hope, in desperation perhaps, and even in Faith … as small as a mustard seed! But that little Faith, however tiny it was, is what saved and healed them.
“The blind man shouted at the top of his voice to attract Christ’s attention and to be healed.
“The old lady pushed her way through the crowds in order to get close enough to just touch His cloak and be healed.
“The Roman soldier believed in Jesus so much that he thought just one word from Him would bring healing.
“That’s what I mean by true Faith … it plays a great part in the performance of miracles.
“It need not be our Faith that saves us … the Faith of others, on our behalf can and does bring miracles and healing to us.
“The Roman soldier was asking for healing for his servant, not for himself. His Faith helped heal his servant.
“The men who broke the roof off a house and lowered the man in his sick bed down to Jesus showed Faith on behalf of their friend … and their Faith was rewarded.
“All the people who lay in the streets hoping that Peter’s shadow may fall upon them showed great Faith too.
“As indeed do all those who visit Lourdes, Fatima, Knock and all the Holy Shrines.
“Let me conclude by saying that miracles do indeed happen today. Both great and small. They are performed by Saints and those yet to be Saints through the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ
“Faith plays a great part in the performance of miracles.
“And before you ask … we do not have to go to the Holy Shrines for our prayers to be heard, or for our miracles to happen. All we need is to trust in God and be willing to accept His will in His time and in His way.
“We need a little Faith … not much, just a mustard seed’s worth!”