By Fr. Alex Radulescu - When I was little, probably around 7-8 years old, my parents took me to the circus for the first time. I did not know what to expect. They pitched a big tent in my neighborhood. I remember we had to buy tickets in advance then return for the show. It was an evening show. When the time came, we got in line as one by one people filled the stands inside the tent.
Once inside, the tent seemed much larger. I remember to this day the feeling of being in a different world where everything was possible. I saw animals doing tricks, odd people doing odd things with odd objects and so on. I thought to myself, this must be a special place! Look what they can do in here that we can’t do outside! To me, it felt like magic, extraordinary, out of proportions, a world of wonders.
When the show was over, I was sad to live behind this universe of great wonders. Later in life, I lost my interest in circus shows. The magic was just an illusion. Yet, I will never forget the feeling of being in a different world when I first entered that tent.
We, people, have an attraction for magic, extraordinary things, oddities, things that defy logic or physics. And the reason is because it is something beyond our power and understanding. During His ministry, Christ performed many miracles. But to many people it just felt like magic. Some people saw the power of God, but others only saw a magic trick and nothing else. To some, Christ was the Son of God, but to others He was just another sorcerer doing tricks to fool the naïve.
In today’s Gospel reading (John 4:46-54), a nobleman approached Jesus asking to heal his son who was dying. Christ’s answered: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” (v. 48) By “you people” Jesus referred to all of us in general, in the plural. His point is that our faith should not rely solely on signs and wonders. That type of faith is shallow and temporary. Jesus wants us to see God behind the signs and wonders and not be distracted or focus only on the supernatural.
Divine miracles have a dual purpose: to point to God’s power and to increase our faith. A sorcerer would do tricks to impress us or to gain some personal benefit. Christ performed miracles to show His divine power and to heal. His miracles have an altruistic purpose. Jesus healed the son of the nobleman from afar. He did not even have to go to his house and touch him. The power of His word was enough. Only God can do that!
Christ healed the boy on the basis of the father’s faith. The purpose of this miracle was to gain a troubled soul for the Kingdom of Heaven, not to show off to the crowd.
Friends, we may enjoy watching someone do magic tricks, but that is simply a show. Like in the circus tent, the tricks are just for entertainment and nothing more. When we experience a miraculous cure from cancer or simply gain hope when we pray, we should be reminded that only God can bring that about. Only through Jesus Christ we will find Paradise, a totally different type of tent. Amen.