Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – 2020

My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!

Tell me, if you can: when was the last time you witnessed a miracle?

We live in un-believing times. And our Lord told us about such unbelieving times, saying that such a generation “seeketh after a sign, and a sign shall not be given it.”

Today, though, the Church turns our attention towards one of the great miracles wrought publicly by our Lord.

For we hear today in the Gospel of our Lord raising from the dead the son of the widow of Naïm.

We hear that this poor widow had now lost her only son, still a young man, and his body was being carried by a multitude of people on a bier out of the city of Naïm. And the widowed mother was accompanying it, with tears.

As we hear, our Lord and His disciples come upon this scene. And our Lord instructs the poor widow first, saying simply to her: Weep not. And then, touching the bier, the Lord commands the young man to arise. And so it happened; the young man returns to life, and begins to speak. And the Lord then gives the young man to his mother. And all those who witnessed it were astonished and gave glory to God.

And so, now we too are made witnesses to this miracle, for today the Church teaches us with the words of the Holy Gospel which relate this history to us. And, like those first witnesses, our response should be, and in fact is, that we give glory to God and worship the Lord in His great power.

But, as we made note in the beginning: we live in an unbelieving time, an unbelieving generation. And it’s all well and good to hear of our Lord bringing a young man back to life two thousand years ago. Why do we not see miracles such as this today?

Well, I venture to say that there are two main reasons. Firstly, quite simply because we are unbelieving. And our Lord told us that signs are not provided to the unbelieving generation, even should they seek one.

And secondly, we do not see such miracles because we do not heed the Lord’s injunction: weep not. We do not do that which He asks. We do not heed his commandments. For these reasons, we do see miracles such as this today.

But note well: I do not say that it is for these reasons that there are no miracles such as this today. I say that it is for these reasons that we do not see miracles such as this today. This is an important distinction. The question is not whether miracles are being worked – the question is,”why don’t you see them?”

In order to be able to see, we must first overcome our unbelief.

And there are different forms of unbelief. There is the unbelief, more or less of the will, the unbelief of the one who simply rejects faith, who rejects the impulse of grace, who rejects divine revelation, who rejects the transcendent, who rejects, in fact, anything which might cause him to be humbled, or – by turns – to be elevated. An unbelief of fear. And all of us will suffer from such an unbelief at times – it is this form of unbelief that drives us to give ourselves permission to sin. We cannot see miracles in such as state, for we have turned our wills against the very purpose of a miracle: the glorification of God.

There is another, far more insidious unbelief, one which can even masquerade under the form of piety. An unbelief of the intellect. An unbelief of pride. This is the unbelief of the one who may proclaim that he believes, but in fact, he only knows. His belief goes no further than his own intellect. This is the unbelief of both the atheist and of the scholastic. They confound knowledge for the virtue of faith. They quite simply cannot see miracles, because miracles are beyond their ability to know.

Finally for those who do believe, they also must be quick to hear and enact the commandments of God, just as the poor widow of Naïm was. For, when the Lord said, “Weep not,” she ceased her tears – as difficult as that must have been for a grieving mother. Her tears ceased, she was able then to behold with clear and cleansed eyes the miracle of the raising of her beloved son.

So also, those who do hold the faith must be reminded to be quick to fulfill the commands of the Lord, not to become centered in themselves, not to continue to weep for their sadness when the Lord calls them to cease. For to do so is to blind oneself to the reality of being surrounded by miracles, every day.

There is a great deal in this world to be sad about. There are worries everywhere. Anxieties. Sorrows. And yet, our Lord bids us today not to weep for the sake of these passing things. We weep for our sins, yes. We weep in compunction. We weep in prayer, for tears are a sign of God’s visitation. We weep for love.

But then, our eyes cleansed by these tears, let us then hear our Lord as He tells us, too: Weep not! For He has great things to show us. There are miracles all around us, even now.

When was the last time you witnessed a miracle? It can be today, if you believe, and if your eyes, cleansed by the gift of tears, are open to see.

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