Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “There are two ways to live your life: One is as if nothing in life is a miracle; and two, as if everything is.” Now, I am not sure that the genius Einstein really believed that there were onlytwo ways to live life, but the idea is an interesting one for us to ponder. What is a miracle? How do we know when we have seen one? What do we do with that experience?
Our lives are complex – maybe not as complex as we would like to believe, as if that complexity is beyond anyone else’s ability to understand; however, the human heart is a frightfully deep and amazing thing. We have such a capacity to love and bring joy and life into the world. We also have the ability to impose great suffering – on other and ourselves. When that happens, we often will react in one of two ways.
First, when we fail, we shut ourselves off from God and from others. When we sin – usually when we gravely sin – we decide that God cannot forgive us, or that He will notdo so, because our offense is so spectacularly bad. Rather than facing that sin, and facing God, we turn away – we hide like Adam and Eve – and figure that we are on our own. Worse, we begin to believe that God is also done with us.
Then, when we see God acting in our life or in the lives of others, we begin to cynically explain that activity away, since if God is active in their lives and not in ours, then we are in as bad of shape as we think. So, we can be like the Pharisees in the Gospel, who attribute Jesus’ powerful – and loving– activity to the power of the devil. They were convinced that the “sinners” whom Jesus was healing and freeing were closed off from the love of God, and therefore Christ’s miraculous healing was simply a “snake-oil show” meant to enthrall the dumb crowds.
This point of view is one that leads to missing every miracle in life – the miracle of forgiveness, the miracle of joy, the miracle of healing after loss, the miracle of faithfulness, the miracle of life itself! Each one of us – our very existence – is the result of the miracle of creation; and our redemption is owed to the miracle of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Only one who remains open to God’s presence and love can see this.
The second response to human failing is to remain aware of God’s goodness. It is an attitude of encouragement – or of being encouraged. Paul points it out to us: “Therefore, we are not discouraged, rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Never let a “momentary affliction” define you! Never allow the foolishness of sin to trick you into thinking that you are no better than the worst of your failures. God doesn’t look at you like that. Listen to the line just before where our First Reading begins: “When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” After their sin, Adam and Eve are terrified of God – perhaps believing that He would destroy them or abandon them. However, what does the Lord do? He seeks them out: “The Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’”
Friends, this is what God is doing for us – now and always. He is seeking us out, regardless of our sins, regardless of our mistakes, regardless of our spectacular failures. He wants a relationship with us. This is why He sent Jesus, and this is why Jesus reached out to those who were considered sinners and “rejects.” It was not because miracles were not possible for them; it was because everythingis a miracle since God is always present to us and looking to embrace us again.
Never believe that you are so sinful, or weak, or insignificant, or broken, that God cannot heal whatever it is that has you stuck or hung up. That is the sin against the Holy Spirit that Jesus talks about. Everything else – everything – all sins and blasphemies … will be forgiven.
Miraculous? Of course! But don’t be surprised – it’s God!