FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY
(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)
I can say that in our contemporary times “Miracles” can be seen as the most publicized “element” of Christianity. It possesses a highly commercial value and if I am not to exaggerate, the net monthly income as a result of miracles may amount to millions of dollars for some churches. For example, a story is told of a political figure in a certain country who claimed that a man of God healed him of a life-threatening disease and when he returned to him to give thanks, he donated $1.5 million USD. The sad thing is that these men of God do not pay taxes on such moneys. If the economic dimension of miracles can be deemed “crazy or unimaginable”; then the religious dimension can be simply said to be “intoxicating and cancerous.” If one witnesses masses of people trooping to religious events because of miracles, one may think that they have been charmed. The political dimension is complicated, to say the least. I know of one African leader who has banned certain Christian denominations in his country because he deems them a danger to his people. With all these, what can be the working definition of a miracle?
Miracles can be defined as exceptions of nature; something beyond the ordinary. It can also be defined as an event that no reasonable explanation in human abilities or in other known forces that operate in our world of time and space. It is the result of a special act of God, doing what no human power can do. Anyone who claims that a miracle has happened is saying in effect: “God has acted here to accomplish what no human force or any other known power in our world can accomplish.” This extraordinary event was caused by God alone and examples of this is what Mark presents to us in today’s Gospel reading. The woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years; we are told she had gone through those years through great suffering in the hands of doctors, who though may have enriched themselves from the woman’s payment, could not find solutions for her. Now prompted by the Holy Spirit she decided to touch Jesus’ cloak and the result was a miraculous healing.
This miracle did not need an intermediary (a man of God), it was purely divine. That is why I stated earlier that anyone who claims that a miracle has happened is saying in effect: “God has acted here to accomplish what no human force or any other known power in our world can accomplish. In the case of this woman, the extraordinary event was caused by God alone.
Mark goes on to recount to us another miracle and in that miraculous account God is the sole author of miracles. We are told by the inspired writer that the people who gathered in the house were certain that the girl was dead and so when Jesus said she was asleep, they mocked and laughed at him. Little did the people know that the Nazarene had power to raise the dead back to life. In this miraculous event, three key elements are at place. Firstly, God is the author of life: He gives and he can take and no one can question His decision. Secondly, in every miraculous case, there should be the nuance of salvation and redemption. God does not heal someone for him/her to return back to idol worship but rather (s)he is given the chance to depart from a life of sin and embrace a life of grace. That may be the reason why the inspired writers always indicated to us that after healing episodes, Jesus usually tell his recipients “Go and sin no more.” The third element is the eschatological element. The one who gives life to a person deem dead, if He promises to give life eternal, then one has to grasp it with faith.
The life we enjoy is one of the greatest daily miracles. My dear friend, for you to wake from sleep today is a miracle. The author to the first reading emphatically tells us that “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living…” We should note that the presence of death in the world is ascribed to the devil’s envy. But how can the sage say this when he knows that everyone, righteous as well as unrighteous, must die? Like Jesus, he distinguishes two deaths: natural death is a corollary of the finitude of existence; unnatural death is the result of man’s resistance to God. Consider Jesus’ mysterious but in this context very enlightening words: “Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies”, followed by words that by no means contradict: “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Though man is a finite creature, his faith in Jesus will take him to infinity – eternal life. What miracle can one pray for than this?