By: Fr. Constantine Siarapis, Preacher of the Ecumenical Throne.
It is true that we talk about miracles which have happened to some people or we have read about, and we often want to understand what a miracle really is.
A miracle is good not because it cures someone but because it reveals God to all. In every day language the word miracle means something which exemplifies itself in an impressive way.
There is however, another term found in the New Testament which seems to be closer to the conscience of the church than the word “miracle.” It is the term “semeion-sign,” the sign of the impending kingdom of God.
The miracles are signs of the eternal Kingdom, so attention must be directed to where the signs point. When the finger points to the moon, it is silly to look at the finger! The implication is that humans should not put the miracle at the centre of their interest, or they will not be able to mature spiritually.
Those who accept the miracle as a criterion for the Truth risk falling into spiritual delusion. The devil may sometimes present supernatural phenomena in other faiths and/or cults. However, the other religions and cults do not reveal God in His Kingdom. When the thoughts and the hearts of people are ready and mature, then the miracles aid in the understanding of the teaching, and in their own acceptance. The Pharisees witnessed many miracles, but their hearts were hardened and shut to faith. The requirement is that the Word of the Lord should suffice.
When a miracle takes place, when someone sick is cured of his illness and this fact induces repentance to the rest, then the miracle fulfills its intent. The miracle becomes the sign of the presence of God. The major issue is the Revelation of the Lord.
The miracle is good, not because it cures someone, but because it reveals God to all. If someone thinks of the miracle as a “favor” by God to somebody else, then that makes God partial and unjust. Of course, this is a mistake! God does not cure some people because he favors them, while appearing deaf to the supplications of others. A miracle happening to someone else should also be our own personal experience. We must keep in mind that even the person who was cured by a miracle will eventually die. It is not important that we depart this world without having been subject to a miracle.
It is, however, tragic if we depart from this world without the experience of God inside us.
There can be no miracle without an internal change and metamorphosis. St. Gregory Palamas says that the biggest miracle is the rebirth and the sanctification of the person. Thus man becomes God-like that is, his soul lives in a godly way.
God decides when He is going to offer the miracle. Some people have not become recipients of a miracle even if they have lived a clean life. This is so that they will not become proud in themselves. The gifts are offered to the humble and simple. The humble and simple do not think highly of their own selves; they are careful and appreciative of the gift, because they believe themselves to be unworthy of it. On the contrary, those who believe that they are pious and just think of the gift as a justified and appropriate reward by God; their pride then increases even more. The revelation of the Spirit is given to each one’s benefit (Cor. A, 12, 7).
This life is given to us as an opportunity, not as a trail. It is an opportunity to live Christ starting now. His Kingdom commences immediately. It does not start when we die; it only continues then. A “sign” and a “miracle” mean to live God’s revelation inside us. Let us pray that we can acquire the spiritual wisdom so that we discern the Grace of God at every moment of our lives.
Article taken from: Orthodox Way, May 2010. Published by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto.