My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
GOD’S DIVINE WONDERS (Gk.THAVMATA) OR MIRACLES
"…behold, I and the children God gave me. This will be for SIGNS and WONDERS in the house of Israel
from the Lord of Hosts…" (Isaiah 8:18). [The "children" are interpreted as Christ's Apostles and Disciples,
Lazarus from the dead (11:38-44).]
Man has struggled to believe in miracles, signs, and wonders ( Gk. θαυματα (thavmata) of God, although God has manifested His power through them for thousands of years. In Holy Scripture, both the Old Testament and New Testament God has performed miracles that man has personally witnessed and benefited from. As everything surrounding God is a mystery, including His Mighty Works. The human mind has great limitations and to attempt to understand God’s actions through human reason is foolish and naive.
Through God’s energies man is able to maintain communion with Him and benefit spiritually and physically. Man’s faith is strenthened by experiencing on a personal level the Lord’s profound compassion for him. He is given by God the opportunity to feel in his heart His infinite love and be healed by it. Our Savior performed His wonders when He was asked, and other times when someone sought His intervension on behalf of someone else. Even Satan himself, who attempted to tempt Him, asked Him to perform miracles.
No man is ever worthy of this extraordinary and transforming act of God. The Psalmist asks, "… Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God Who does wonders" (Psalm 77:13-14). Psalm 136 states, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever: to Him Who alone does GREAT WONDERS" (vs. 3-4). A believer is governed by his faith in God. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen WERE NOT MADE OF THINGS WHICH ARE VISIBLE" (Hebrews 11:3). The unbeliever and atheist is spiritually blind and therefore cannot see God’s Wonders around him.
How very tragic for one who does not believe in God, but instead chooses to believe in human and flawed theories. These theories that can never be proven, because they are based on someone’s opinion, who resists the truth and stubbornly insists on falsehood. Someone like the one who invented the so-called "Big Bang Theory" of how the universe was created. It will always remain just a theory and a Big Lie. It is God’s creation and we, as Christians, glorify Him "Who alone does Great Wonders." The Almighty God and Creator is not subject to the laws of nature. Nature abides by the Divine Law. In order to reveal His love for man, He at times suspends and overrules the laws of nature in order to come to his aid. In Wisdom You, O Lord, created them all. Everything in God’s Creation is a miracle that praises His Everlasting Glory.
The first human being, Adam, is one of God’s greatest miracles when one thinks of how he made him out of dust and gave him life. How cannot one not marvell at God’s wisdom? The greatest of all of His miracles and wonders is the Incarnation of God the Logos/Word. God’s plan is revealed to the Prophet Isaiah: "Therefore the Lord Himself will you give you A SIGN: BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL CONCEIVE AND BEAR A Son, and you shall call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14). This Messianic prophecy is fulfilled when the Virgin Mary gives birth to Christ. "Immanuel," meaning, "God with us," refers to Christ’s Divine Nature. The Messiah coming as a Child refers to His Human Nature.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as we all Christian believers know, performed many more miracles than is recorded in the New Testament. That,"If they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written," according to Saint John (John 21:25). The Lord, as the "Megas Philanthropos," reeveled His unconditional love for mankind through His gracious miracles that touched and captured the hearts of the people. The beauty of the miracles lead the recepients of them and others to the Lord and Savior. We believe, however, that our Savior performed these wonders for the healing of souls and bodies of those who believed in Him, and for no other alterior motive.
The wonders continued, by the grace of God, even after the Lord ascended into heaven. These wonders were first by theTheotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, whose countless miaracles over the centuries have touched a multitude of believers, then by His Holy Disciples and Apostles, and again through the Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Church, Holy Martyrs, Holy Confessors, and the countless Saints that followed. In our Holy Orthodox Church, miracles have been granted through the holy relics of Saints and Martyrs, holy icons, Mysteries (Sacraments), prayers, and blessings through annointing.
As a priest of many decades, I have personally witnessed numerous miracles over the years. I’ve had the experience of miralces in my own life, those in my family as a child, and many, many miracles as a parish priest in the various parishes that I had the blessing to serve. There was a parish council president in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, who was told by the doctor in front of me and his family that he had cancer of the kidneys and that he had only a few months to live. After receiving the sacraments prior to his surgery, he was healed and lived many years.
There was a case of a parishioner and photographer at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New Orleans who, after the surgeons opened him up, saw that his cancer had metastasized throughout his body and, therefore, could not continue the surgery. After he received the sacraments, preparing for the inevitable, he was healed and lived many years.
There was a case in Tampa, Florida, where a parishioner who was pregnant with her first child was in distress, because her baby was not turning. After prayers and annointing were given, she had a safe delivery.
At Saint Andrew’s in South Bend, Indiana, one of my parishioners had an aneurysm that threatened his life. Following the reception of the Holy Communion and annointing, he was healed and continued his life for many years.
Again at Saint Andrew’s, a young man fell from a second story on his head and was taken to the local Saint Joseph’s hospital. The doctrors told the family while I was present that there was no hope. Then, sometime later, the Coroner declared him dead and signed his certificate of death. After prayers were offered the following day, when his organs were to be donated, he showed signs of life. He was immediately taken for brain surgery. Not long after, he was discharged from the hospital and served in the church’s holy altar.
Finally, another miracle took place at our small and humble chapel of Saint Nektrarios at St. Andrew’s. A new beautiful Artophorion (Tabernacle) was placed on the altar table. The Orthodox practice is to place the ‘reserved sacrament" (Consecrated Host) in the Tabernacle by the parish priest. However, due to the Chapel’s close proximity to the main church, I foolishly decided that it was not necessary, since the Artophorion in the church of Saint Andrew had the sacrament. Sometime later, as I was cleaning the Altar Table of the Chapel, I instinctively opend the little drawer. To my amazement and wonder, I saw three consecrated small pieces of the holy Host! Glory be to God! Thanks be to Saint Nektarios! As you can see, the miracles of our Lord and Savior are not something that happened in the past, but by the grace of God, continue and will continue forever. No one can take credit for a miracle that happened other than to give glory and praise to God Who performed the miracle.
Our Christian faith is A LIVING FAITH! There is no room for skepticism, doubt, or lack of faith. We are reminded constantly by our Savior that He is always present and seeks always our salvation. As the Physician of our souls and bodies, He continues to bless and to bestrow upon those who truly believe in forgiveness of sins and healing. When a Christian is touched by the grace bestowed upon him in the form of a miracle, he or she is never the same again. Not that any of us can ever believe that he or she is worthy of the miracle and God’s mercy. The miracle has an enormous impact upon the recepient and his or her life changes forever. Most of all, one feels extremely grateful to God for his compassion. At the same time, one feels a profound and extraordinary love for our Lord God. There is a sense of unworthiness, a greater humility, a stronger faith, a need to serve Him and our fellow man, and a need to be kinder and more loving. You feel in your heart His constant presence. There is no fear of death. Only the hope of eternal life.
God’s miracles and wonders should not be kept a secret, but should be revealed to all other believers, as to inspire them and strengthen their faith in the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Over the years, I have felt that both clergy and laity are reluctant to reveal miracles that happened in their lives and the lives of others. There is not much discussion about miracles and what they mean to us and to our Church. It is hard to understand this new and wrong attitude. Instead, we should all declare them openly and from the roof tops, so that all may come to know God’s Great Wonders!
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George