THE MIRACLES OF JESUS
Modern science has helped us to understand much about our world that was once a mystery. In the distant and not so distant past, astronomical events, mental and physical illness, and unusual phenomena were often attributed to the work of gods or demons. Today, we know that there are often natural causes for such events. Unfortunately, our scientific understanding of such things has led some to conclude that the miracles of the Bible, and even the miracles of Jesus, can also be explained by natural causes.
The Church holds firmly to her faith that miracles did happen and still do. The miracles of the Bible are not to be discounted as simply the misunderstandings of primitive people who were not able to see or examine the natural causes behind such events. In particular, the Church holds that the miracles of Jesus are not to be explained away as merely the results of natural causes, as if Jesus were some sort of natural healer, magician or trickster. While some who are thought by others or themselves to be demon-possessed may, in fact, be suffering from mental or physical illness, this does not mean that demonic possession does not exist. While most who suffer physical illness are well-served by the knowledge and experience of medical science, this does not mean that miraculous healings do not occur. The one does not preclude the other. While our understanding of the Earth and universe provides clear explanations of many astronomical events, it cannot claim to explain all events, such as the miracle of the Sun at Fatima, or supernatural visions.
It is important to approach the question of miracles with balance. Those who suffer illness, either acute or chronic, often wonder whether they should pray for healing or follow their doctor’s orders in hopes of a natural cure or improvement. The best answer is: do both! God made us and gave to some of us the minds to examine difficult problems and solve them. This is exactly what medical doctors and nurses do. We should be grateful to God for the gift of such men and women and for their brilliance in advancing the cause of medical science to help millions. The research performed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, for instance, has led to a significant decrease in the number of children who die from childhood cancers. This is cause for rejoicing!
At the same time, we know from the testimony of many that miracles of healing still occur today at places such as Lourdes in France, where St. Bernadette witnessed visions of the Blessed Mother, and also in response to the prayers of saints and candidates for sainthood. On May 1, 2011, the late Pope John Paul II was beatified. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints led an investigation, which included medical doctors, into the healing from Parkinson’s of a French nun after she prayed for John Paul’s intercession only two months after the pope’s death in April, 2005. The Congregation concluded that a miraculous healing was the only reasonable explanation for the nun’s amazing overnight improvement from the devastating symptoms of the disease. This young woman, who had been confined to a wheelchair and could not lift one arm prior to her being healed, processed around St. Peter’s Square under her own power during John Paul’s beatification Mass, holding high a vial that carried the relic of his blood. We should never discount the power of God’s grace to heal in response to our sincere prayers and devotions.
The advances of modern medicine and scientific knowledge of recent centuries is no cause to doubt the reality of Jesus’ miracles, or of those of the apostles, the Old Testament or even modern times. Medical science and miraculous grace can both effect God’s will to heal those who suffer, and move hearts and minds towards a deeper understanding of God’s majesty and love for all people. It is right and proper to give thanks to God for both.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.