Understanding Miracles

In scripture, we read about the miracles of Jesus and saints, and we understand why they are perceived as acts of God. Incurable diseases are wiped away through blessings, a handful of bread and fish are multiplied to feed over five thousand people, and water is turned into wine. These things were inexplicable to those who witnessed them. When carried out in the name of God, they are miracles.

As time has gone on, science and technology have changed immensely, and not just in the way it’s practiced. At an exponential rate, our pace for learning has rapidly increased and we are constantly setting the bar for the amount of data recorded in human history. As new, eye-opening inspiring technologies have been invented, our ability to remain connected with the past has been dampened. It’s hard to gasp at the curing of leprosy when we’ve eradicated that along with many other diseases. Why would miracles shock us anymore? We have nuclear power, drones, cars, planes, satellites, skyscrapers, and microcomputers, all things explainable through science.

Father Sam Martin joined guest host Patrick Conley on The Inner Life to talk about what miracles are, how we still experience them today, and what we can learn from the miracles that Jesus performed over 2000 years ago.

While many would argue against the reality of miracles because of their absence from our modern world, that idea is predicated on a mistaken definition of what a miracle is. Even though the CCC does not offer an explicit definition, we know a miracle to be what it is from centuries of historical context that inform our universally-accepted definition. A miracle is nothing more than a positive phenomenon that is inexplicable by science or the laws of nature. That would include things like bi-location, levitation, and the stigmata. However, it also includes other things like unexplainable conversions or healings, something we see quite often.

“‘Well, we know that it happened. We don’t know how it happened,’” said Father Sam. “There are some things we don’t know about this world, and we’ve been on this planet quite a while now. And yet, that notwithstanding, there are things that defy our understanding; things that are above any explanation that we could provide.”

Patrick mentioned that often people will refer to things like “the miracle of childbirth” or “the miracle of a sunrise” and while his intention is not to accuse anybody of attempting to subvert the actual meaning of miracle, those things are not, strictly speaking miracles. They are daily phenomena that are explainable by science, anatomy, and astronomy.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God and those who witnessed His miracles from the Wedding at Cana onward could see that in Him. Everything He did pointed to His Father in Heaven and that’s why so many came to believe in His teachings. This divine power, while ultimately God’s power, is left to us in a way through the sacraments. Through these blessings, we are invited to participate in the power, whether it be through the indelible characters from Baptism or Confirmation, or the sacred bond formed in matrimony. Of course, there are always misuses of this power through things like the occult, tarot cards, and witchcraft. The devil takes a good given from God and perverts it to steal us away.

“Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

If we are to participate in the power of the sacraments and thereby open ourselves to miracles from God, then we should wield that power responsibly. Be wary of unsubstantiated claims of divinity and never participate in anything that does not find its roots in the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Father in Heaven.

Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.