Do You Believe in Miracles?

 

Advertisement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To quote the sportscaster Al Michaels at the end of the U.S. hockey team's victory during the 1980 Olympics: "Do you believe in miracles?"  (You have to shout this if you want to quote him accurately.) 

I do, but there are many believers who don't.  And it's not hard to see why.  To my mind--and I'm being serious here--I figure that if God can create the heavens and the earth, raise his son from the dead, and so on (to say nothing of what his son's miracles during his earthly ministry) then something like healing someone from an incurable disease in the modern world is, by comparison, relatively easy.  Plus, I've read plenty of medical reports surrounding the many verified miracles at Lourdes.  And I've also seen and heard about what I would call "minor" miracles in people's lives that remain inexplicable. 

But belief in miracles raises a very difficult question for those who believe in them (including me): Why is one person "cured" while another remains ill?  This is where those who do not believe in miracles have a very strong case: for if you admit of the possibility of miracles, then you have to grapple with the question of whether this means that God plays favorites.   And many of my friends simply cannot abide that image of God. 

However, it seems to me that miracles do occur these days, hard as it for many of us--including me--to comprehend them.  To that end, an article on "Modern Miracles" by Michael Paulson of The Boston Globe.

James Martin, SJ

 

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
8 years 4 months ago
I had a few thoughts after reading this.  I'm clearly no scholar in the field but these thoughts are borne of my ideals of what my faith are.
That said, I don't know that saving the life of one person by miracle and not that of another indicates favoritism or bias on the part of God.  There is a modern notion that we are all the same  and we are all equal; I think it is this idea that leads to the misconception about ''favoritism.''  We are all equal in the sence that we are equally loved by God but this doesn't mean that we are all meant to rise to the same heights or are meant to suffer the same challenges.  With faith in God should come a faith in God's plan.  On one hand, that person who is saved may live to do great things or they may only make a difference in one person's life.  That is God's plan.  On the other hand, the person who is not saved by miracle is not a victim of God but is one who is being welcomed into eternal salvation with God which, truly, is a gift.
Thank you for posting this blog entry.  I enjoyed reading it.
-Tom
8 years 4 months ago
I like Tony's answer about favoritism; spot on and wish I had thought this. Miracles do take place; I witnessed a brain injured woman declared dead by 2 expert neurosurgeons and 2 psychiatrists rise from the dead after being detached from all life support systems; I attribute this miracle in part to the annointing of the sick by an old priest-chaplain who said, "now we have to wait for the miracle". A week later it happened! Also involved was a promise on a green scapular of healing being assured; can't remember the details except the scapular came from a Medagorgie Conference at Notre Dame University.
8 years 4 months ago
Some "miracles" can come about because we are learning more about death.  It turns out, if you add oxygen to someone who has been down for too long, their cells explode.  If you cool them first and then add back the oxygen and restart their hearts, their brains will survive relatively unscathed.
In Jesus' day, miracle working seemed much more accepted.  While miracles still occur, most people rely on science for some things, while they are forced to rely on miracles for others , like treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, where a more spiritual approach is required for recovery.
Just a few short months ago, the Catholic press was full of debate over Reiki, which uses "energy" and touch to heal.  Having been the beneficiary of it, I know it works. I would likely benefit from it now for a malady I am currently dealing with - however I will likely instead rely on the surgical arts to eventually rip out the offending organ that in the past had benefited from Reiki.
The real miracle we all have to face is eternity.  Left to our own logic, we can conceive of either annihilation or the equally daunting pressence of the eternal God in a never ending moment (which might as well be annihilation, since the self would seem not to be able to survive such an encounter).    No one has been to that place after death and returned - and even if they did, the organ by which we would remember the experience was safely dead back in the corpus.  The miracle we have is the experience of the Risen Lord and the faith that he will not simply plop us down in front of God in a place outside of time.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A 14-year-old boy receives medical treatment at Suez Canal University hospital in Ismailia, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, after he was in injured during an attack on a mosque (AP Photo/Amr Nabil).
The pope described the attack as a “wanton act of brutality directed at innocent civilians gathered in prayer.”
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 24, 2017
“The Senate proposal is fundamentally flawed as written and requires amendment,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane in a Nov. 22 letter to senators.
Pope Francis greets people at the “Regional Hub,” a government-run processing center for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in Bologna, Italy, Oct. 1. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)
Although he named no countries, Vatican observers believe he is referring especially to political leaders in several western and eastern European countries.
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 24, 2017
For Thanksgiving, we give you an inside look into what Jesuit basketball teams to watch out for this season.
Olga SeguraNovember 24, 2017