By Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
We constantly read about Christ’s miracles in the Holy Gospels, and we ask ourselves, “why is it that such things were possible in those days, and yet we see so few miracles in our own day?” I think there are three possible answers.
The first is that we do not see the miracles that surround us, we take everything for granted, as completely natural. We receive all the good things from the hand of God as though they were normal, and we no longer see that life is a wonderful, joyful miracle, that God wanted to create us, that He called us from non-being into being, laid open before us the whole miracle of existence. Nor did He confine Himself to this. He called us to be His friends for ever, everlastingly to live the eternal, divine life. He revealed Himself to us; we know that He is, we know Him in Christ as the God whose love did not falter even in the face of His own death which was to save those He loves. And what about those miracles that are even less obvious to us, like health, like peace, like friendship, like love? They are all pure miracles — you cannot buy them, you cannot force anyone to give you his heart; and yet all around us there are so many hearts open to each other, so much friendship, so much love. And our physical existence which we consider so natural — is not that a miracle?
That is the first point that I wanted to make: that the whole of life is a miracle. I know, of course, that there is much, very much pain and horror in it, but at the same time such a quiet yet unwavering light shines in the darkness: if only we could believe in the light, and so become children of light, as Christ says, the bearers of light?
There are two more remarks I should like to make. Today we read that the people were in need, that the apostles noticed this need and spoke to the Lord about it. And the Lord said: “It is up to you to relieve this need, to feed these hungry people”. “How?” they said, “we have only two fishes and five loaves, can that possibly be enough for such a crowd?” And Christ blessed those fish and those loaves and it was enough for the crowd.
So what is expected of us in order that God can freely, by His sovereign power, perform heavenly miracles on earth? First, that we should notice someone else’s need. So often we pass by it and do not open the door to God to allow Him to enter and do that which it is impossible for us to do. Let us open our eyes in order to see the needs of the people around us — material, psychological, spiritual; the loneliness and longing and countless other needs.
And another thing that the Lord urges upon His disciples is, “give everything that you have, and we shall be able to feed them all.” The disciples did not leave aside some fish and some bread for themselves, they gave it all to the Lord. And because they gave everything, the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of love, the kingdom where God can act freely and untrammelled, was established and all were satisfied. This call is addressed to us also: when we see want, let us give all, and all will be well.
Now a final remark: when the paralytic about whom we read a few weeks ago was brought to Christ He saw the people’s faith and cured the sick man. We can supply the faith that is lacking in those around us, we can carry them on our faith as on a stretcher. But faith is not enough; in the case of the paralytic there was not only the faith that the Lord could heal him, but there was caring love for the sick man. If only there were such love amongst us the beginning of the Kingdom of God would already be established in our midst, and God could act freely.
Let us consider this, for every one of God’s miracles was introduced, and so to speak conditioned, by the participation of man. It depends on us that the Kingdom which we pray and long for should be established on earth, that Kingdom which we are called on to build together with God and in His name. Amen