Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fr. Georges Massouh: Man the Miracle-Worker

Arabic original here.

Man the Miracle-Worker

God is capable of all things, so it is no surprise that He works miracles. He does not need to offer evidence and proof to confirm His all-surpassing power. A priori, He would not be God if He was unable to work miracles. For this reason, miracles have no importance in themselves, but rather in their fruits. Repenting towards God, returning to Him, is the only goal that God desires man to strive towards. The same is true whether repentance is achieved by virtue of miracles or without them.

When people brought the paralyzed man to Jesus in order for Him to heal him, He did not heal him right away. Instead, He immediately addressed him saying, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Then, when He saw the legal scholars' disapproval of what He had said, since God alone has the authority to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your bed, and go to your house." So he got up, took his bed, and walked (Mark 2: 1-12). This event shows that Jesus' priority is not healing man from his bodily ailments, but rather healing him from the ailments of sin. Bodily death on account of illness does not do away with a person's life, while sin destroys him forever.

After Jesus healed the paralytic for the second time, he warned him saying, "You have been healed, so do not sin again, lest something worse afflict you" (John 5: 1-14). What is worse is that which results from sin and it is more harmful than bodily disabilities. The basic lesson of these words is that the sickness of sin is more insidious than all other sicknesses. In death, man becomes dust and the members which had been healed, through miracles or through medicine, are healed for a time and not forever. However, healing from sin, for the faithful, remains and lasts into eternal life.

God is capable of all things, but He does not compel man to do something that he does not want to do. He created man free, reasonable, and rational according to the consensus of the Church's tradition. Man does good or does evil according to his freedom. God desires for each person to come to Him by his own choice and free will. Man is capable, through the reason, heart, and free will that God has given him, of working miracles. Is going up to the moon, for example, or the world of communications and computers, the discovery of drugs and medicines and the prolongation of human life... not forms of miracles, especially when they are related to what has been happening for decades.

However, the most important miracle is something that every human being can do, without a doubt. It is moving from a state of sin to a state of repentance. This is more important than moving a mountain from one place to another. Zacchaeus, the chief tax-collector, after his repenting, said to Jesus, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house" (Luke 19:1-9). The reward for repentance is eternal salvation, while the healing of the body is limited to this earthly life. Repentance is a miracle whose fruits are much more valuable than the fruits of a miracle that is limited to bodily healing.

Our purpose is not to compare the healing of the soul to the healing of the body. In the healing of the body there is mercy for man, and great love. But it is expected of man that he not neglect his repentance, that all his life he strives to purify  himself from the stain of sin. In this way he becomes a miracle-worker and a partner with God in life.

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