Taken together, today’s readings share a message of hope. This message is at once profound -touching on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity – and accessible – resonating with our daily experience as members of any community. By word and example, we are taught that people can perform miracles when they believe in God and we believe in them.
Jesus promises as much when he tells Philip that “whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.” Jesus, the man who literally walked on water and raised the dead, tells us that we might do as much and more. Of course, it’s hard not to think of Peter following Jesus out into the waves and succumbing to doubt. If the rock of the church was not steady enough in his faith, what chance do we have to fulfill this promise – perhaps duty – of miracle-making?
Our best chance, as Paul and Barnabas prove in the first reading, lies in our community. The disciples open the doors and find the Gentiles waiting, eager to share their faith. All it takes is a simple invitation to unleash a torrent of love, glory, and delight that continues to this day. Surely, what we see here is a miracle – a miracle wrought by humans working together to build God’s kingdom on earth, where “all who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread.”
Over the last many weeks, we have all been holding our breath for the next miracle. Just as Martha asked Jesus to raise Lazarus, we turn to our modern day miracle workers to cure the sick and vaccinate the world. We must face the disappointments and disbelievers that stand in our way with the same open hearts and welcoming arms we see in the disciples’ mission. We must look for our miracles in unexpected places and from overlooked people. As I write this, the world is cautiously celebrating the lifesaving potential of Remdesivir – a drug resurrected from the pharma dump heap. Meanwhile, essential workers take to the streets to raise awareness around the good works they do every day without recognition. As we reflect on today’s readings, I’d like to close with a favorite quote by C.S. Lewis: “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” We must remember, however, that it is a story we have to tell together.