Sunday, July 25, 2021

Do you believe in miracles?


Do you believe in miracles? 

My reflection on this question was partly informed by the readings for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) as published in the Sunday Lectionary: 2 Kings 4:42-44, Psalm 145: 10-11, 15-16, 17-18; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15

This is the question the readings are asking us today when they recall the story of Elisha and Jesus who miraculously fed hundreds of people with just a few loaves of bread.

This question about miracles is addressed by Pope Francis in a homily that he gave earlier this year when he announced that the fourth Sunday of July would be a day the World day of Grandparents and the Elderly.

In this homily, he proposed that grandparents are the hope of the future because their wisdom gained through life experience and their faith that God is with us provides the foundation for better tomorrows and the possibility of miracles.

Pope Francis does this by identifying the three pillars that shape the way grandparents live their life and faith.

The first is dreams. The pope said: “You faced any number of troubles and yet you were able to pull through. Use your experience to help young people find hope in their times of trouble and difficulties. Help them dream of a future where justice, peace and solidarity are realized. Help them dream dreams where miracles happen.”

The second is memories. As Pope Francis suggested , the memories grandparents create through the way they give witness to the gospels in their lifestyle and practice of their faith. It is these memories that can provide the foundation for young people as they begin their life journey.

An illustration of what I believe Pope Francis is saying when he speaks about dreams and memories of our grandparents, is found in the gospel for today, which illustrates the way a grandparent has learned how to one  can respond to the suffering and needs of a community.

The first is the way Jesus disciples respond to Jesus’ request to feed the crowd by proposing a solution, saying: “there is a boy with five barley loaves and two fish.”  But then qualifies his solution, saying: “What are these among so many”? In other words, wondering will this make a difference?

It is this experience our grandparents likely faced when confronted with overwhelming challenges but identified solutions, in the little they had, even though they wondered if it would make a difference.   

The other is the response of the boy. He does not quibble with Jesus, nor wonder how so little help can feed so many. He simply handed them over to Jesus. When he did this the miracle occurred: All were fed.

Again, the faith experience of our grandparents, holds the secret of how we are called to live out our faith – offer our gifts and talents no matter how little we think they are, and God will create miracles.

The third pillar is prayer. Drawing on the words of Pope Benedict, he says: “The prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it perhaps more effectively than the frenetic activity of many others.” Then Pope Francis added: “your intercessions for the world, and for the Church has great value: it inspires in everyone the serene trust that all will be well.”

Today, we can celebrate this first World day for Grandparents and Elderly by recalling their dreams, their memories and their prayers, we know miracles are possible.

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