Miracles in the Bible
Many people have a complicated relationship with the miracles in the Bible. When a section of believers admire and adore them, another group is confused. There might be all other sort of sentiments, and I don’t want to contest any of those sentiments here. The Sunday gospel reading (20 June, 2021) had one of the most fantastic miracle story in the Bible, which is the calming of the sea.
With the coming of evening that same day, he said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a great wind and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are lost!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and there followed a great calm. (Mark 4 , 35–39)
What was the miracle there? Probably many of us might say that is a silly question. It is and probably it is not. I modify the question a little; what is the first miracle here? And the clue is, it is not the calming of the sea.
The first miracle (for me) is that Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the boat when there was complete turmoil in the sea. We may not see many normal persons having the ability to sleep in absolute peace in such a condition. An explanation would be that Jesus is divine. Though factually and theologically correct, we should never forget that Jesus was fully human. And there are individuals in the society who can do things that seem abnormal. So it is not necessary to focus on the divinity alone to explain his sentiment of peace.
This first miracle is the sign of a greater trust; for Jesus, it was that absolute trust, not in his divinity, but in his father. From that inner peace and hope, he could do another miracle which fascinates us even today, though fascinating the disciples (or us) was never the purpose of the miracle.
There are innumerable individuals in our society who continues to live in peace and tranquility despite great storms in their life; others may ask, “how can you sleep?” Their actions and lives imitate “the peace of Jesus’ life” in an extremely ordinary (but fantastic) way.
Thankful to Benoît Ferré SJ for the idea of “first miracle” during his first mass as a priest yesterday.