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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories: Standing with Gratitude in a World of Wonders and Miracles

One of the remarkable aspects of our Covid-19 experience has been the appearance of vaccines to respond to the virus. Normally such scientific developments take years and decades to achieve. The polio vaccine took decades of research and development before it came into use in the 1950s. It was a wonder and a blessing when it did.

The vaccines that have been developed for Covid-19 have been even more wonder-filled. The virus appeared in China near the end of 2019. Within a year, the first of a host of vaccines types for the virus had been developed and were beginning to be used. The speed at which this development took place was without precedent. In so many ways we have witnessed what some might call a miraculous development.

Miracle! The root of this English word is found in the Latin word miraculum, its meaning is a “wonder” or “something amazing”. More commonly, we tend to use the word “miracle” for something that reveals an intervention of God, but in a way that seems a suspension of the normal rules of nature. Perhaps this is too limited an understanding.

It would be better to see miracles as more common, not a suspension of nature, but a heightened awareness of how we are surrounded by a wonder-filled creation, a constant gift of God. In doing so, we begin to recognize that God is very much present and active among us. Every wonder, every amazing aspect of life, every “miracle” speaks to us of God’s constant presence. Beginning with Creation and life itself, we are constantly surrounded with the touch of God, with the miraculous.

The gospel writer John seems well aware of how Jesus, the Christ expresses this wonder of God. He begins chapter 6 by telling the story of how Jesus feeds a large group of people who surround him. The chapter begins with a miracle account (John 6:1-15). Jesus proposes to feed the people that are following him, a large number. Two of his close disciples, Philip and Andrew express some skepticism about this possibility.

As the account unfolds the crowd is fed and with food left over – a miracle. A suspension of nature, perhaps, but perhaps not. Perhaps it was a miracle, a wonder which expressed how the action of God’s love works through us all, naturally. There was a boy in the crowd who had five loaves and two fish. This was the start of the miracle. Jesus blessed the food and the wonder was in the manner in which the crowd shared their food.

The message and the mission of Jesus, the Christ is that the Kingdom of God is near. It is among us. In each one of us is the spirit of this Kingdom, the spirit of Christ. With such a spirit we are driven to share God’s love with all we have and with all we do, especially with the most vulnerable, those among us most in need. To do so, is to share creation, life and love in the way that God has done for all of us. Working such wonders, such miracles is what Jesus preached and what we are called to live as disciples.

May we stand in wonder at the miracles that surround us - the compassion and love expressed in times of need, the care and concern revealed in moments of pain, the works of science and service in humanity’s gifts and talents. Thanks be to our loving God.

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