John 14:21-26, Monday of the 5th Week of Eastertide
Our readings today invite us to reflect on God’s miracles, and to clarify certain misconceptions about them.
Miracles require faith; they do not “produce” or compel faith. Sometimes, we wait for miracles to convince us to believe, to strengthen our weak faith in the goodness of God towards us, as if faith required miracles, as if God needed first to prove God’s trustworthiness to us before we put our faith in God. But in our first reading, Paul saw that “the crippled man, lame from birth… had the faith to be healed.” The man had what was required to receive God’s miracle.
Miracles happen out of the goodness of God; they are not a reward for our faith or our good behavior. In fact, faith is a gift. It is not our achievement. Just as the miracles we see and receive are gifts of a gracious God. God doesn’t condition his love and his goodness to us on our achievement or merits. Otherwise, miracles would be a testament to our faithfulness that earned these miracles. Instead, miracles are a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness and glory. Thus, we join the psalmist in proclaiming “Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.” This is precisely what the crowd at Lystra missed that made them want to worship Paul and Barnabbas, because they didn’t have the faith that would enable them to understand the miracle and to see it for what it truly was: God’s glory.
Miracles are simply an expression of God’s life-giving and loving power; they do not consist of only interruptions or violations of natural phenomena. In fact, miracles show us that deep down, nature is God’s goodness. The miracles of God’s goodness conform to the nature of God who is good and who imbued created nature with His goodness. Rather than an exception to the rule, goodness is the rule. With faith, we are able to see this goodness, these miracles, and to discover how many they are and to be inspired to participate in them, in the manifestation of God’s goodness and glory. Thus, in our Gospel, Jesus assures his disciples, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
In this time of COVID-19, let us ask for this faith to receive, to see and to participate in the miracles of God’s goodness, dwelling deep down each of us, in the life and love we are able to relish, in the sacrifices we and many people make, in the name of and by the power of God’s love and mercy.