Monday, June 3, 2013

A miracle you can perform

I have often expressed a certain ambivalence about the Biblical miracles.  They are, by their very definition, difficult (if not impossible) to believe.

But this in and of itself is not the problem.  The problem is that I can't perform them.

It is all well and good to report on the miraculous activities of Jesus and the other Biblical "biggies", but when it comes down to living out our faith in the real world, how are you and I as normal, non-miracle-performing people supposed to proceed?  How can we possibly emulate or repeat miracles?

I have a theory: behind every impossibly flamboyant Biblical miracle lies a deeper message, a deeper miracle, a miracle that you and I can, in fact, perform.

Take this week's Gospel passage, for example.  Luke 7:1-10 tells the story of Jesus healing the centurion's slave.  We could read this superficially and still be impressed with Jesus' abilities and leave it at that.

But there are actually a few things going on in this passage that go unspoken, unnoticed by readers in our time and culture, but which would have been no less miraculous to readers in Jesus' time.

The first being that the centurion cares enough about a slave to seek Jesus out to help him.  The second is that the Jewish elders in the story actually admire and respect the centurion, even though he is part of the Roman occupation forces.  The third is that the elders would seek Jesus out, even though his message essentially undermines their whole structure of authority.  The fourth is that Jesus, himself a Jew, would go out of his way to help a Roman slave.

At every turn in this story, you have people seeing past race, creed, colour and class.  You have people looking past prejudice and intolerance.  You have people valuing and caring for one another despite the cultural norms of the time.

This is truly a miracle, more impressive to me than parting a Red Sea.  And furthermore, it is one that you and I can do ourselves.

To hear my sermon, click here.

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