by Father Mark Goldasich
The full moon was magnificent this past Monday night.
I had plenty of time to observe it glowing in the clear sky as I made my way around the rosary garden at the parish. My mind drifted back 50 years to July 20, 1969, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module on the moon’s surface.
Some 650 million people watched Armstrong set foot on the moon and utter his famous line, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
At the time, I remember thinking it was a miracle that they got to the moon and another miracle that they returned home safely. Looking up the other night stirred that same deep sense of the supernatural in me.
Sadly, it seems like modern-day folks are losing a belief in miracles. Technically, a miracle is something that defies a natural explanation. My take on a “miracle” is much broader, however — it’s simply the ability to be awestruck.
How many people take the time anymore to look up from being immersed in the virtual world of smartphones or computers to contemplate the real, physical world around us?
Are we amazed at the movement of the sun, moon, stars, oceans and planets? Do we even think about the gravity that holds us to the ground?
Are we astonished at the way our lungs take in air and our hearts beat without our conscious control? Do we ever notice the delicate beauty of a flower or lilting songs of birds?
Do we ever ponder in gratitude the love that family and friends extend to us?
Perhaps our greatest lack of awareness pertains to our faith. This story from Mark Galli in “Jesus Mean and Wild” is powerful. He writes:
A group of Laotian refugees attending the church I pastored in Sacramento, California, asked to become members. Our church had sponsored these newcomers.
Since they had only a rudimentary understanding of Christianity, I suggested we study the Gospel of Mark for a few weeks to make sure they knew what a commitment to Christ and his church involved.
These Bible studies were some of the most interesting I’d ever led. After reading the passage in which Jesus calms the storm, I asked about the storms in their lives. There was a puzzled look on their faces, so I explained that we all have problems, worries and troubles, and Jesus can give us peace in those storms.
“So what are your storms?” I asked.
Again, more silence. Finally, one of the men asked, “Do you mean that Jesus actually calmed the wind and sea in the middle of a storm?”
I didn’t want to get distracted with the problem of miracles, so I replied, “We should not get hung up on the details of a miracle. We should remember that Jesus can calm the storms in our lives.”
Another stretch of awkward silence ensued until someone said, “Well, if Jesus calmed the wind and the waves, he must be a powerful man!” At this, they all nodded vigorously and chatted to each other in Lao.
Except for me, the entire room was full of wonder. I suddenly realized that they grasped the story better than I did. (Adapted from “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)
How true. We’ve heard the stories of Jesus so often that their miraculous nature is lost on us. At every Mass, the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ.
Yet, we seem to take this miracle in stride, as well as the fact that we actually take the Lord into our bodies in Communion.
We Christians have the answer to what the world so desperately needs. Let’s begin by helping others to rediscover the amazing natural world that we live in; then, we can lead them to notice the One behind it all.
Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”I know which I choose. How about you?