Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Miraculous Healing and Nourishing that Comes from Within Ourselves and from Supportive Relationships of Faith, Hope, Love, and Trust

The "discerning" eye can detect and chart a very definite development in the way that God "reaches out" to humanity to bring healing and sustenance. In the Old Testament, God reaches down from "on high" in a very extrinsic way to show care, concern, and solicitude to the Ancient Israelite people. One example is when God "rains down" manna on the Israelites as they are on the move from Egypt to the Promised Land.

In Jesus, God's miraculous intervention on behalf of persons is "lower keyed" and more intrinsic; meaning, God's solicitude manifests in part through his power at work in Jesus and partly as a result of the faith response of the other. As a matter of fact, Mark 6:1-6 relates the story of how Jesus was unable to perform miracles in his hometown because of a fundamental lack of faith on the part of the towns folk. It would very much seem that the "rules" for God's outreach and the experience of God's power among people had undergone a very definite change once God took on flesh in Christ. Instead of power coming down "from on high," divine power now only manifests in the context of a relationship based on shared faith. Today's Gospel from Mass (Matthew 15:29-37) which relates the story of the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes, provides another example of how God's power is at work not only in Jesus but in and through humans and human relationships. When Jesus seeks to address the needs of the hungry crowd, he doesn't call down manna from heaven, rather, he looks to others for the "raw materials" to produce an abundant miracle. It's important to note that once he multiplied the few fish and loaves that were given to him, he than gives them to the Apostles who in turn distribute them among the crowd. This miracle is not only a miracle of feeding but, perhaps more importantly, a miracle of sharing.

Do miraculous healings and feedings continue to take place in our lives and world? Is God still at work among us in as powerful a way as in the Old Testament or Jesus' time? The answer, I believe, is a resounding "yes"! By virtue of the fact that God and Jesus have freely shared their Holy Spirit with us, this means that "miraculous" healing and nourishing now come from within ourselves and from within supportive relationships of faith. The phenomena of "support groups" that have emerged over the course of the last half century bear powerful testimony to how God's power is at work. When people come together to share similar experiences of sorrow, struggle, brokenness and pain nothing short of a miracle happens: silence is broken, shoulders are shared in mutual support, and an abundance of resources miraculously emerge to bring about healing and wholeness. Make no mistake, God is still at work in our lives and our world: only now, God works from deep within our hearts and from deep within supportive relationships based on faith, hope, love, and trust. Pat, TOR