Tag Archives: miracles

The Business “at Hand”

12 Jul

In the readings at Mass this week, we’re hearing quite a bit about the “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of heaven” as Our Lord builds His Church. It’s not something far away, we hear, but “at hand” (Mt. 10:7).

I’ve found that the “proclamation of the Kingdom” as a mystery of the Rosary provides vast opportunities for meditating upon the Gospel. Jesus’ entire public ministry comes within its purview, as it provides a crucial and expansive bridge between the Infancy and Passion narratives.

Yet, the proclamation of the Kingdom in some ways is the most intensely personal and focused mystery. Jesus’ words, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15), apply specifically to each one of us and demand a daily response of faith (cf. Lk. 9:23). This mystery points to our own liberation from sin and our acceptance of the sublime gift of divine sonship (cf. Gal. 4:4-7), a gift that far exceeds our wildest dreams.

Here the various extraordinary signs Our Lord used—and through His Church continues to use—to manifest His Kingdom and strengthen our faith come into play.

Miracles that we can see with our own eyes grab our attention. Jesus performed many such sensational signs–curing the sick, expelling demons, feeding the multitudes, and even raising the dead. In today’s Gospel, He gives this power, this authority, to His newly chosen Apostles. Still, Christ did not come to make us “ooh” and “aah” in amazement. Nor did He come as merely a social worker extraordinaire to rid the world of all suffering, hardship, and injustice, even as He calls all His followers to help renew the face of the earth and transform the temporal order through our own works of mercy (cf. Mt. 25:31-46).

Rather, He came to work a far greater miracle. He came “to free men from the greatest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage” (Catechism, no. 549). Other miracles are but signs that point us to this more profound reality.

The miracle of our redemption carried a hefty price tag. As St. Peter says, we were ransomed from the futile ways of our fathers by means of the precious blood of Christ, the lamb that was slain (1 Pet. 1:18-20). The critically acclaimed film The Passion of the Christ magnificently—and graphically— depicts the intense sufferings Our Lord endured for us so that we might truly become children of God.

We need the eyes of faith to see and appreciate the gift of eternal life as adopted sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven, a gift that God in His loving providence has marvelously interwoven into the fabric of our own personal histories.

May we meditate frequently upon this miracle of grace that is being worked within us even now. Yes, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!

Do You Believe in Miracles?

25 Aug

This weekend is the feast of St. Augustine, though this year it falls on Sunday and will be preempted by the Lord’s Day celebration. St. Augustine, after St. Paul, is probably the most celebrated “convert” in the history of the Church. Yet, we’re all converts, and we all have stories to tell. In that spirit, I’m reprinting here a “testimony” I gave several years ago.

Back in 1984, I was a young lawyer who years before had abandoned the faith of my youth. I had largely cleaned up my act since my wild undergraduate days, but that was more a matter of expedience, not moral conviction. I felt as though I should give my life to something or Someone, but I really didn’t know where to turn.

My sights weren’t set particularly high, so I resolved to help build the earthly city. After all, what else was there to life?

At that time, my mother asked me to start going back to Mass on Sunday so as to set a good example for my nephews and nieces. I was reluctant to do so, as I felt like a hypocrite since I no longer even considered myself a Catholic. I eventually relented, figuring that an hour a week wouldn’t kill me.

As it turned out, some of the Sunday homilies that I heard gradually drew me in, and I became increasingly receptive to what the Church had to say, especially in social justice matters. Soon, I no longer had to be asked to go to Mass, even though I was still on the fence.

Attending weekly Mass opened an unexpected door for me. One of the secretaries at my law office saw me one Sunday at Mass, so she invited me to a weekly young-adult Bible study. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I said I would go with her to check it out. Here’s what happened. Continue reading