Saturday, May 10, 2014
God's Miracles Still Exist
Most people are familiar with the story of the widow's mite, which appears in the Gospels of Mark and Luke.
Mark 12:41-44 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And He called Jos disciples to Him, and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living."
The amazing thing about scripture is the amount that is said despite it is said with so few words. First, we are told that Jesus "sat down opposite the treasury, watching the multitude. This alone says something. Jesus didn't just happen to wander by and happen to catch the widow making her gift. He "sat down opposite the treasury, " as if to deliberately study human behavior. Since He watched the multitude make their gifts, Jesus must have been there for a while. Obviously, Jesus had an interest in money, but it wasn't in whether the temple raised enough to meet its expenses. His concern centered on the donor, and what was happening in the heart of the person contributing to the treasury.
Secondly, a second lesson nestled within the parable of the widow's mite. Notice what Jesus did not do. When He saw the widow donate the two coins, He did not run over to her and say, "Excuse me. What are you doing? Surely, you are not thinking of putting your last two coins in the treasury! What will you eat tonight?"
Rather, He did the opposite. He called together His disciples and praised her behavior, telling us that the rich is not the only ones called to be generous. Even the widow was called to generosity. Focusing on the amount, large or small, misses the point of the story. Jesus was not concerned with how much people give, only how much they trust in God. The gift is a reflection of trust. In making her gift, the widow was trusting in God's providence completely, while the rich had enough in reserve to still rely on their own wherewithal.
The widow believed and trusted that God will provide for her despite that she gave up everything. And God does provide. Miracles are abundant in the Bible: The splitting of the Red Sea, manna and meat from Heaven, water from a rock, the healing of the blind and the lame, the resurrection of the dead, etc. God provides.
A few years ago, some of the RMS priests and seminarians went on a two by two mission for two weeks in the United States. The priests and seminarians were told not to bring any money. All they had with them were their passports and Bibles. For those two weeks, they did not starve. God provided. And although some of them slept on the streets, no harm came to them. Some of these priests have spoken of the miracles they witnessed on their two by two mission.
God's miracles exist today just as it does during biblical times. Just look at Mother Teresa. In her diary, Mother Teresa wrote that she was able to hear the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the time of her death, the Missionaries of Charity (which was founded by Mother Teresa) had an estimated number of over 4000 sisters and an associated brotherhood of 300 members, operating 610 missions in 123 different countries. These included hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, counseling centers, orphanages, and school. The media were attracted to Mother Teresa because like many people they were astounded at the accomplishment of one woman who had no money to begin with, but lived in poverty. As Catholics we know that only the Holy Spirit can carry out such an accomplishment. It is unreasonable and illogical to think that one human woman living in poverty could accomplish so much.
Christopher Hitchens was an atheist who wrote a lot of negative remarks about Mother Teresa. He accused her of stealing money for herself; yet, he was unable to produce any evidence of it. Mother Teresa did not live in a mansion nor owned a car, but Christopher Hitchens accused her of theft, misuse of funds, and other offenses. He even demanded that Mother Teresa show documents of how and where the funds are spent. Christopher Hitchens was so focused on where the money went that he could not see God's miracle before him.
For him, there was no such thing as a miracle because he did not believe in God. True Christians, on the other hand, believe in God's miracles (such as getting a seminary for free, and God providing food for priests and seminarians who went on a mission without money for two weeks). After all, how can a Christian say they don't believe in God's miracle? To believe in God's miracles means that one also believes in God and trust that He will provide just like the widow in the Gospels.