AUGUST 3, 2010- TUESDAY OF 18TH WEEK: MATTHEW 14:22-36

 

JESUS CAME TO THEM WALKING ON THE SEA. Each of the four Gospels present Jesus as possessing miraculous powers that he could make use of at will. In todayís reading, Matthew makes an astonishing claim: the Lordís body imparted to his very clothing a supernatural power so as to impart on this occasion a miraculous healing to a suffering woman who, with strong faith, touched the tassel of his cloak. Saint John tells of the still further extent of this supernatural power in his version of the storm at sea. When the apostles feared their boat would sink while Jesus was sleeping in it, the Lord effectively commands the seas and stormy winds so that they abate and grow calm. His power is not limited to healing human bodies, but extends to nature itself. After our Lordís resurrection and ascension, Saint Peter also worked miraculous healings, as did any number of saints after him; not least among them was our Saint Bernard.

 

What are we to make of these claims of so extraordinary a nature today? Are such narratives credible in an age where science and technology are so dominant and the laws of nature are considered to rule everywhere with unexceptional consistency? Many of our contemporaries refuse to accept the witness of the Scriptures and of those who attest to miraculous healings in our own times. Skeptical, they assert that such accounts are naively superstitious. They too are committed to faith, for there can be no proof that reason and experiment alone yield adequate knowledge of the full laws of nature and of the first cause of all things.††††††††

 

One of the persons who posed these questions to himself and openly raised them in public was Alexis Carrel, a young, brilliant French surgeon who obtained his Medical Doctorate in the year 1900. He decided in 1903 to investigate the rather numerous accounts that were circulating in France concerning remarkable cures effected at Lourdes. He was able to examine thoroughly an 18 year old woman on the train to Lourdes who was so ill with tuberculous peritonitis that he concluded she was about to die. She was so critically ill the attendants at the pool did not risk placing her in the water but only applied some water to her swollen abdomen. A few minutes later, while Carrel was carefully observing her reaction, her pale features took on color and the infected abdomen began returning to normal size and shape. He subsequently examined her and declared her to be fully healed. The experience had a profound effect on his spirit as he continued on with his research to win the Nobel Prize in 1913 for his original contributions to surgical techniques, notably organ transplants. He eventually returned to his Catholic faith that he had formerly abandoned.††††††††

 

These considerations raise a fundamental question that presents itself to every man and woman at some time in life. In some people it remains relatively obscure, being implied in a choice we make that seems to be, on the surface of consciousness, a decision merely involving a human matter: to tell the truth when it will cause us serious trouble and suffering, or to chose to lie and be dishonest, for example; to chose to resist sexual temptation and remain chaste. Implicit in such choices is a decision in favor of the unseen world whose laws are a reflection of God himself. Truth, purity, and spiritual beauty are present, often hidden, everywhere in creation, often in a manner that is hidden to the senses but revealed to faith. Daily to choose them is to become pure of heart.

Faith in God and in Jesus as the Son of God in our flesh is an energizing power that opens the eyes of the spirit to that world in which God is its light. Currently, even the findings of quantum physics have led some of the best minds to hold that this universe of matter is subject to the influences of a hidden world, one whose operations transcend our senses and instruments. At the quantum level of our familiar world, the best minds are baffled in attempts to explain such phenomena as entanglement of two atoms.

 

Jesusí miracles reveal that the laws of nature are indeed subject to a transcendent energy to which he has ready access and over which he exercised control. Our Church from early times has taught that the deepest substance of all matter is sustained in existence by the power of God and subject to his Providence. More importantly, the Lord Jesus communicates the power of God to us through our faith as we open our hearts to him, and receive him, body, soul, and spirit in this Eucharist. This great mystery of his life in us gives meaning and direction to our lives, even while so much mystery remains hidden in the depth of the material world we inhabit. May we always faithfully live worthy of this gift of his love, offered day by day at this altar, the spiritual center of the universe. &†††††††


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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