This past weekend, the world watched an historical event take place in Rome, where 2 popes were canonized as saints, while being proceeded over by 2 living popes. This has never happened before in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, and is unlikely to ever happen again.
I bet the souvenir shop at the Vatican made a killing!
Part of the ‘sainthood’ vetting process is the verification of the act of performing miracles. I think that most people outside of faith belief systems see the concept of miracles as one that’s limited to ancient writings in the Bible. Was it just that the people who lived thousands of years ago were more in-tune with the the manifestation of such supernatural events, or was it just a lack of modern knowledge that led them to believe that common things were considered ‘godly’ back then?
I have to admit, I get a bit squeamish when people throw the ‘miracle’ word around, especially when they’re talking about having a parking ticket lost in the government systems or their favourite sports team came back from certain defeat to win a series. These are probably not the types of miracles that would get anyone designated as a saint (unless your team’s name happens to be the ‘Saints’).
Basically, in our modern and enlightened society, we have managed to relegate miracles to the same interest and legitimacy as fortune tellers and circus side shows. Miracles to most of us are nothing more than facts that haven’t been explained yet. I think that’s a mistake.
Miracles, big and small happen all the time. I know people who have had miracles happen to them over the years. Some were true medical mystery healings that have happened without explanation – an incurable condition, suffered for years is suddenly absent. Gone forever. Others were more practical – someone suddenly and permanently quitting smoking after praying about it. No withdrawal, no nicotine fits.
Sometimes miracles are as simple as having prayers answered.
I still think though, that miracles get bad press – or worse, no press at all. It’s because of this that the idea of miracles happening in our digital world isn’t given much credit.
I to get caught up in the cynical side of miracles at times. I’m not likely to build a shrine in my living room if I found a dust-bunny in the shape of the Virgin Mary. It’s more likely, my finding a dust-bunny in my living room at all would be a miracle, since I’m never the one to clean under the couch.
But something happened last weekend that made me revisit my belief in miracles. At the end of our church service, during the announcements, the minister asked if there were any updates from the congregation. A little girl, about 10 years old, timidly put up her hand.
Her mom has been battling cancer for the past year, and has had a terrible time with it, as you can imagine. Every time things would look up for her, more devastating news would follow, and she would be sent back to the hospital for more tests, chemotherapy, biopsy’s, and so on. Mom was brave beyond belief. Her Maritime strength kept her pushing for any help the medical establishment could offer, but in reality, the prognosis was not very good.
The church has a prayer chain – a group of people who dedicate enormous energy to praying for whatever is given to them, and this mom was at the top of the list. She was added to the prayers at every Sunday service as well, and others who know her said quiet prayers during their day or as they sat for meals.
She was an open book about her pain, suffering, strength, and even the unpleasant details of the extremes the doctors were taking to try to fight this terrible disease.
This Sunday, the little girl who put up her hand was invited to come to the front of the church to speak. She was too short for the microphone, but it turns out she really didn’t need it. She loudly and proudly announced to everyone in attendance that her Mom had cancer, but it now it was just gone. Mom doesn’t have cancer any more. The entire congregation was in tears.
The back story is that when ‘Mom’ was to have a biopsy on the 10cm tumor last week, the radiologist could find nothing to test. Just scar tissue remained. The tumor was completely gone. A miracle.
And now here we are, you and me, faced with a decision to make. Do we raise our hands to God and say ‘Thank you for answering our prayers’, or do we scramble for tangible reasons that this tumor could have disappeared naturally, in order to discredit the power of prayer, and any proof of this miracle happening.
It’s not unlike conspiracy theories, isn’t it? Any doubt is proof. Maybe she never really had cancer. Maybe the chemotherapy killed the tumor. Maybe. I have no doubt the skilled doctors played a role.
Maybe this Mom and her daughter have a little more time to spend together at home planning for the future, instead of sitting in hospitals wondering if there will even be a future. Maybe, like the 2 popes, a real-life miracle happened, and we should thank God for it.
Maybe you’ll think a bit differently about miracles too, like I will.