Faith Moves God to Work Miracles
Today’s first reading on the ladder of Jacob tells us about the continuous presence of God to those he loves. God himself is there, stooping down to people and messengers of God coming down and going up. This means that his continuous solicitude surrounds us. God is here, with us; we live in his love as long as we want to.
God has made us for life. In Jesus he shows us that he wants us to be healed, that is, wholly and fully alive and raised from the dead, for by his resurrection Jesus defeats death in its roots. In this Eucharist, we ask Jesus to raise us up from the injury of protracted and chronic sickness, and from the death of sin and ultimately from physical death.
1 Reading: Gen 28:10-22a
Jacob departed from Beersheba and proceeded toward Haran.
When he came upon a certain shrine, as the sun had already set,
he stopped there for the night. Taking one of the stones at the shrine, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep at that spot. Then he had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God’s messengers were going up and down on it. And there was the LORD standing beside him and saying: “I, the LORD, am the God of your forefather Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you are lying I will give to you and your descendants. These shall be as plentiful as the dust of the earth, and through them you shall spread out east and west, north and south. In you and your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing. Know that I am with you; I will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.” When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he exclaimed, “Truly, the LORD is in this spot, although I did not know it!” In solemn wonder he cried out: “How awesome is this shrine! This is nothing else but an abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven!” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head, set it up as a memorial stone, and poured oil on top of it. He called the site Bethel, whereas the former name of the town had been Luz. Jacob then made this vow: “If God remains with me, to protect me on this journey I am making and to give me enough bread to eat and clothing to wear, and I come back safe to my father’s house, the LORD shall be my God. This stone that I have set up as a memorial stone shall be God’s abode.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 91:1-2, 3-4, 14-15ab
R. (see 2b) In you, my God, I place my trust.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
Say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” R.
For he will rescue you from the snare of the fowler,
from the destroying pestilence.
With his pinions he will cover you,
and under his wings you shall take refuge. R.
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress. R.
Alleluia: See 2 Timothy 1:10
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 9:18-26
While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples. A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.” Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land.
Bethel was one of Israel’s most sacred worship sites. Today’s reading is an account of the site’s discovery by Jacob. The place was formerly known as Luz, but, now in light of Jacob’s vision there, it becomes Bethel, the house of God. It was a place of strong divine-human exchange, illustrated by the heavenly messengers ascending and descending. There Jacob is assured a future kingdom and a far-reaching domain.
Both individuals in today’s Gospel are aware that Jesus is in some way the walking presence of God among them. The daughter of the official has died and he asks that she be restored to life. The anonymous woman has suffered with a hemorrhage for years without an effective cure. Because of their great faith, both of them receive the desired healing.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that they will see the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. It is not without reason that people pray for particular benefits. And when people claim that a blessing has been received, why do we not rejoice with them rather than be incredulous or out-rightly ridiculous? The house of the Lord is a house of miracles. Sister Briege McKenna OSC, published a famous book, Miracles do Happen (Veritas, 1998), co-authored by Henry Libersat. I serve you one of its reviews that reads: “Some people believe in the theory of miracles. Sister Briege McKenna believes in the reality of miracles because she sees them happen. Since 1970, when she was healed of crippling arthritis, Sister Briege has experienced more of the extraordinary ways of the Spirit… [ …] Miracles Do Happen tells the story of Sister Brieges encounter with the healing power of God. It shares her insights about faith for healing, the power of the Eucharist in healing, the vital importance of prayer, and the ministry of the priesthood. Most of all, it points the way to closer fellowship with Christ, greater knowledge of his love, and deeper faith in his power to do the impossible.” Miracles happen daily. Don’t mind the ‘commotion’. However, to falsely claim or look for miracles ‘by all means’ is unchristian. To doubt them altogether is pure atheism. We do believe in the power and greatness of God—but perhaps our faith can run a little thin in practice.
The Church is a house of miracles. Don’t be disinclined to them. God wants us to live to the full. That is why he lets his Son Jesus Christ heal and strengthen us with the food and drink of everlasting life. May almighty God bless and keep you: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!