I received a tweet this morning asking me who the Patron Saint for students taking exams is. In case you’re wondering, it’s St. Joseph of Cupertino.
For those of you needing to know that little fact, you may also want to consider asking St. Jude Thaddeus to pray with you (he’s the patron saint of hopeless causes).
At any rate, it’s always around this time of year that I see an increase in emails, tweets, posts, etc. from people asking for prayers and seeking minor miracles in their academic lives, or when discerning their futures.
It’s great timing, actually, since during the Easter Season we spend every week hearing about Christ’s Resurrection appearances and the amazing feats of boldness and logically inexplicable activity in the Acts of the Apostles. There’s no better time to talk miracles, it seems.
Ever Wonder What “Miracle” Means
The word ‘miracle’ comes from a Latin term meaning ‘object of wonder.’ Miracles are events that both defied human logic and also revealed God’s glorious wonder; quite literally, miracles are wonderful.
The New Testament reminds us that Christ and His apostles (through the power of the Holy Spirit) offered not merely ‘signs’ of God’s power, but what were described repeatedly as ‘signs and wonders’ (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; John 4:48; Acts 4:30, 5:12, 14:3, 15:12; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Hebrews 2:4).
They Did What?
One of the reasons I love the book of Acts so much is because of the amazing miracle stories. They aren’t just high drama; many of them are also high comedy. Let’s take a look at some of the miracles in the Acts of the Apostles:
- Acts 5:15: Peter is so filled with the Holy Spirit that even his shadow has the power to heal, a fact that makes Groundhog Day even less impressive.
- Acts 8:39: after teaching about Christ and baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch, the Holy Spirit snatched Philip immediately in a scene almost reminiscent of Star Trek.
- Acts 9:36-42: Peter raises Tabitha from the dead. Almost as impressive is that Tabitha was also known named ‘Dorcas.’ I think it’s clear why she went by Tabitha.
- Acts 20:9-12: a young man named Eutychus falls asleep and to his death out a third story window in the middle of Mass. St. Paul later brings him back to life. Moral of the story? Don’t fall asleep during a homily.
- Acts 28:3-6: a poisonous viper sprung out of a campfire and latched onto St. Paul’s arm, only to be thrust off with Paul suffering no harm. The witnesses then thought Paul was a god. It’s a shame YouTube wasn’t around back then.
In addition to all of these, apostles were witnessed healing the blind (9:17-18), the paralyzed (9:33-35), the lame (14:7-9), the possessed (16:16-18), and even a man with severe diarrhea (28:7-8) . . . you see, the Bible has everything!
Acts of the Apostles also has three dramatic jailbreaks (5:17-25; 12:5-11; 16:25-30), divinely inspired pyrotechnics at Pentecost (2:2-6), healing relics (19:11-12) and a worship service so powerful that the earth quaked (4:31)!
In the midst of all of these powerful acts of the apostles, however, we cannot forget the ‘formula’… the apostles don’t perform miracles by their own power or for their own glory. The apostles perform miracles only through the power of Jesus’ Name, directing all praise and glory to the risen Lord!
What About Today?
Miracles still occur today. Some are big, some small; many are seen, many more are hidden. The question is not whether or not God still performs miracles but whether or not your heart is open enough to receive them.
You might want a miracle but don’t ‘need’ one. God determines our wants and needs not on the persuasiveness of our argument but within the context of His will. It’s fine to pray for a miracle — you might just get it. It’s equally important, though, to trust in God’s love even if a miracle isn’t in the cards for you, today.
One miracle you can be sure of takes place upon that altar every Sunday. The early Church drew its strength from their Sunday worship (2:42). It was the source of their power and unity.
The Eucharist might not get you an ‘A’ on your semester final, but it goes a long way in making sure you don’t fail your heavenly one.