Archive for category Miracle
Today’s gospel narrates to us one of the greatest miracles of Jesus – the feeding of about five thousand people out of five barley loaves and two fish. This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels.
“The location according to the text is in a “desert” region. There was green grass so it wasn’t too barren. The word “desert” means a remote place. Perhaps the gospel writers used the word “desert” because in the OT the desert was where God met, tested and blessed his people” (15 James A. Brooks, Mark, NAC. p. 107).
The miracle happened when John the Baptist had just been killed and Herod was seeking Jesus. Jesus had withdrawn with the disciples to be alone to rest (according to Mark and John’s chronology the disciples had just returned from being sent out) and to give them some private instruction. It was time to take a break, but the crowds followed Him and they have nothing to eat. There and then Jesus out of his compassion feed five thousand people in number. There were even 12 filled wicker baskets of fragments left-over.
There are three points to be considered here for our reflection and daily Christian living:
First, Jesus takes cares of us in all our needs: both body and soul. Hence, his love and care for us is integral, whole and complete. This is why in today’s account, Jesus does not want to dismiss the hungry crowd on empty stomach in a deserted place. Instead, out of compassion, he attends to his peoples’ hunger, both material and spiritual. This is the best reminder for all of us who are ministers of the word: “Never preach in an empty stomach,” or “You cannot preach love on an empty stomach” as the popular saying goes.
Second, a miracle is not God working for us; it is God working with us. Expectant faith, therefore, does not make us fold our hands doing nothing looking into heaven while waiting for miracles to come. Rather it spurs us on to make our best, if not greatest possible contributions, our efforts, cooperation, generosity, five loaves and two fish, knowing that without them, though how humble and inadequate they were, there would be no miracle.
Third, miracle aims conversion, faith and discipleship. It would be somehow sound to infer that what really happened here was not just the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish that fed the five thousand of hungry crowds but also a miracles of sharing as a fruit of conversion, faith and discipleship. It is said that “the world is so poor for everybody’s greed but so rich for everybody’s need.”
It is estimated that 840 millions out of 6.2 billon (August 16, 2002 estimate, US Census Bureau) in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition (World Hunger, Do you know the facts?). About 24,000 people die everyday from hunger or hunger-related causes. This is down from 35,000 ten years ago, and 41,000 twenty years ago. Three-fourth of the deaths are children under the age of five. Famine and wars cause about 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones you hear about often. Majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition whose cause is poverty. And the root cause of poverty is sin in the forms of injustice, greed and selfishness.
Friend, we do not need Jesus to come and be crucified once again just to perform miracles for us so that we can eat and live. Rather, let the word, the person and the examples of Jesus do miracles for us by transforming us from being greedy to generous, from being selfish to selfless, from being close and indifferent to being sensitive and responsive to the needs of the people around us. This is what the world needs now. The miracle of sharing, giving, caring and love. With this, the world would be a better place to live in.
From various Old Testament passages, it is clear that blindness is a type of sin (See Deuteronomy 28:29; Isaiah 59:10; Job 12:25; Zephaniah 1:17; Isaiah 29:8; also Ephesians 5:8; and Matthew 15:14). “In the Near East, eye diseases were as repulsive as leprosy” (14 Frederick Bruner, Matthew Vol. 1, p. 349). Blindness and beggary form an awful combination, and when coupled with the general poverty then prevailing in Palestine, they suggest a fullness of suffering. It is not, therefore, surprising to hear that as Jesus passed by, a blind man called Bartimaeus followed him, crying out, and saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” (Luke 18:39).Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, 41“What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God (Luke 1842-43).
This Gospel narrative is another biblical story about faith making miracle.
Before the healing took effect, however, Christ tested first the faith of the blind man by simply passing him to stretch their faith a little. If he really believed, then would persist in his appeal for help and deliverance. And sure enough, he did. He passed the test, and Jesus healed him.
Here we see Jesus emphasizing the need of faith. Here also we see Jesus testing the faith before he acts on our petition or prayer. The emphasis in the miracle of the centurion’s servant was on the faith of the centurion. The woman with the hemorrhage was healed because of her faith. Jairus was told not to fear, but to have faith.
Biblically speaking, faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about the things we do not see (Heb 11:1). Going back to the Gospel narrative we can somehow say that faith is believing in Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28) and entrusting everything to him who loves and cares for us.
Some of us have spent thousands of pesos so that we can see better physically. We have glasses, sunglasses, reading glasses, bifocals, trifocals, contacts, eye drops, and laser surgery to improve our sight physically. But we have nothing and doing and have done nothing to heal and save us from spiritual blindness. Spiritual blindness, then, refers in some instances to the inability of unbelievers to comprehend spiritual truth, specifically failure to recognize the true identity of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.
Paul tells the Corinthian believers that blindness aptly describes the spiritual state of pagan unbelievers. He points out that this blindness is inflicted by the “god of this age [who] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). The New Testament reveals that believers are subject to spiritual blindness. Peter deems those who fail increasingly to exhibit diligence in pursuit of spiritual virtue as blind or nearsighted (2 Peter 1:9). And the exalted Lord of the church views the lukewarm but haughty Laodicean church as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (Rev 3:17).
It is the Lord who “gives sight to the blind” (Psalm 146:8; Isa 42:16) and we are somehow the two blind men [spiritual blindness] in the story when we are either unable or unwilling to acknowledge God or the things of God in the many events, places, times and people who came to our lives. Perhaps we are not open and dispose to God’s revelation and illumination (Matt 11:25-27; 1 Cor 1:21; 2 Peter 1:19-21) and chose to remain in our stubbornness of heart and unbelief. So, we need to ask him humbly to touch and heal us in order let us see again. It is much more important to see better spiritually. Consequently, cry out to Jesus “all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me!’” (Lk 18:39) Pray to Jesus: “Lord, I want to see” (see Lk 18:41). Beg the Lord: Increase my faith (see Mk 9:24; Lk 17:5; 22:32).
Do not be afraid; just have faith. The Gospel portrays Jesus as divine healer and author of life. What is common to the synagogue official named Jairus and the woman afflicted with hemorrhages is their complete faith in Jesus. While the disciples and the people from the official’s house express their doubts, Jairus and the woman believe in the power of Jesus. They place all their hope in Jesus.
We may stumble and sin. We may ignore God or turn away from God. But God never condemns or abandons us. Jesus tells us, “Talitha koum!” Arise!
Present to Jesus what you want him to heal in you and in your loved ones.
Jesus has just driven out the demon from a mute person. While the crowds are awed, some people attribute the miracle to the power of Beelzebul. Jesus points to the absurdity of Satan fighting against himself and says that he drives out demons “by the finger of God.”
Jesus also implies that his adversaries have less faith in God’s finger at work in him and in the world than the magicians at Pharaoh’s court. For the third plague sent to persuade the Pharaoh to let the Israelites depart from Egypt (Ex 8:12-15), Aaron struck the ground with his staff, and gnats arose from the dust, infesting people and beasts. The Pharaoh’s magicians used their magic arts to duplicate the feat but were unable to do so. Admitting their failure, the magicians told Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”
Besides representing divine power working mighty signs and wonders for his people, God’s finger (or “hand”) is seen in the created world—the heavens, the moon, the stars, humans, and animals (Ps 8). When the Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go, God tells Moses that he will lay his hand on Egypt, and by great acts of judgment, God will bring Israel out of bondage. It is God’s own finger that inscribes the Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets given to Moses (Ex 31:18; Dt 9:10).
God’s Spirit is in Jesus who is God’s finger at work to free men and women from Satan and the forces of evil. Those who follow Jesus share in his victory over evil and continue his liberating mission.