Sunday after Sunday, especially during this time of the year, we read about Jesus responding to the immediate needs of those who suffer from mental and physical disorders. But what about us? What about those among us who suffer from serious illness, hunger and despair? They come to communion with faith and sincerity. They experience his touch in the Eucharist, knowing it to be as intimate and immediate as his hand in theirs. But nothing happens! At least nothing dramatic. Why?
Our search for an answer demands a better understanding of Christ's miracles. The gospel miracles are a showcase for the saving power of God. The power of God is shown in Jesus who is God, feeding the hungry, curing the sick, even raising the dead. Jesus makes this clear when, in response to John's doubts, doubts as to who he really was, he said: "Tell John that the blind see, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life."
Miracles are linked, not only to power, but also to faith. Some who witnessed the multiplication of the loaves and fish did not believe in him - did not see the miraculous. As a matter of fact, whenever he perceived the general level of faith to be low, he restricted himself to preaching only, as was the case in his own neighbourhood. But others were open to accept and believe, and for them, his miracles served the primary purpose of eliciting faith in him.
Upon reflection, it would seem that all of the miracles recorded in the gospel were conditioning people to accept with faith the ultimate miracle of the resurrection. For this is the miracle in which we are all intimately involved.
Through the Gospels, we are witnesses to many miracles just as, through reliable testimony, we are witnesses to the very rare miraculous cures of today, and even though, in both cases, it is something like watching someone else win the lotto, it has had the effect of helping to make believers out of us, and this in turn makes it easier for us to accept the resurrection of Jesus, and subsequently, our own resurrection in and through Jesus.
You see, the miracles of Jesus were not an end in themselves. That is not to say that all of his miracles were set ups, and the beneficiaries pawns in the greater game. On the contrary, most were clearly spontaneous and in loving, caring response to suffering in a yet to be born Church, which had no history and no Easter experience.
It remains accurate to say that every gospel miracle pointed, in the final analysis, to Christ's death and resurrection. If there are occasional miraculous cures in our time, they have the same primary purpose.
May each one of us, if and when faced with the weight of an especially heavy cross, have the faith, supported by miracles, to look to Jesus, the resurrection and the life, and in his embrace, experience the only miracle that lasts forever.