How do we get to see miracles? How do we get to see God do the impossible? This was the problem for the Pharisees and chief priests and the scribes in the Gospel. That was the problem with the young atheist I talked to one day who wanted to see God do a miracle and stand right before him in the flesh. You know what I think their problem is? They just wouldn’t let God do it.
In the seminary, we have a formation evening a few times a month. With the very busy schedule, we usually are wishing that the meetings weren’t so mandatory. At 7pm on a Thursday after a long day and a long week of sitting in lectures, and after a good dinner meal with ice cream, listening to a long talk isn’t quite first on anyone’s list. So, usually, once the meeting is done, just like that, everyone takes off to do whatever it is they would rather be doing. The room is empty before you know it.
Just recently we had one of those meetings, but this time it was a little different. Two women from Project Rachel came to share about the outreach they do to women that have abortions. Well, the first woman gave the overview, and then the second woman stood up to talk. She approached the podium, and then she began, slowly and somewhat nervously, to give her own testimony of the abortion that she had had as a young woman. The years of hiding it, denying the pain, the years of deep-seated guilt and the self-hatred, the voices in her head. And then, her discovery of Project Rachel, the healing that she’s experienced, the mercy of God. And now the accompaniment of other women who discover the refuge of Project Rachel where they come to experience the depth of the mercy of God that can match the depth of their wounds of shame and guilt. There were tears, some laughs, and when she gave her testimony … well, I was amazed and of course the waterworks began in me (not a surprise). Here was a woman who stood before the intimidating audience of seminarians, the future priests of all New England, and bared her soul, the confession of her guilt and God’s Mercy. I had to tell her thank you so much, and that she was an inspiration for me. But I wasn’t the only one. One seminarian told her that hers was the best talk he had ever heard at the seminary. I knew I was looking at a woman who had experienced the miracle of God’s Mercy. And I knew that she herself was a miracle.
So, afterwards, when everything finished, the most amazing thing happened. Not a single seminarian left the room. Everyone wanted to talk to her. Now the fastest way to disperse a room of seminarians is to say “formation evening”. But now, it was bringing everyone together, around this woman, around this miracle.
How is it that a woman who has taken the life of her own child has become such an inspiration for seminarians? Only God can do that. With a witness, He can do the impossible.
Miracles don’t just happen. God is not like video “on demand.” He wants to free us from the guilt of all our failures and mistakes and offenses. He wants to lift us out of our guilt, and then make the very actions that we are ashamed of become the very things through which He reveals His love to other people. He only asks us to do one thing.
Let Him do it.
Then, He does the impossible.
“With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mk 10:27)
Happy Feast of the Divine Mercy!