Familiarity And Miracles

In his book, Catholic Christianity, Peter Kreeft sets out the 3 C’s of any religion; Creed, Code, and Cult. Our Creed is what we believe, the words we speak. Our Code is how we live; our works. Our Cult is our practice, our worship.

We Catholics recite our Creed at every Mass and share it with most other Christian faiths. Just think of it, every Sunday, as we attend the heavenly banquet made present in the Mass (note: big miracle right there), we recite the Creed. Rather than a rote recitation, we should be joining this proclamation of faith with great joy, remembering that what we each proclaim individually, binds us together and our collective voices reach around the world and ring out in heaven.

Our Code is how we live. This is where the people in Jeremiah’s time had fallen down, just as we do now. Our Code is first broken down in the 10 Commandments, and then swept together in Jesus’s great Commandment to love God with our all hearts, with all our minds, and all our souls, and to love one another (paraphrased from Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus sets the standard. “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Jesus actually died for us, his friends. Most of us aren’t called to physically die. We are called to myriads of daily little deaths, where we give up a piece of ourselves, of what we want for the
good of another. That driver that ticked me off in traffic, did I let him in or cut him off? When my spouse wants to tell me about his day, do I put my phone down and give him my full attention or do I multi-task our relationship? Our Code is further deepened by the Beatitudes. Jesus outlines the values that drive our behavior and just in case we didn’t catch on, he gives us concrete examples for our daily life in the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy. We can look at this list and ask ourselves, do my words of belief lead me to these works on a daily basis?

Our Cult is how we offer worship. Occasionally, someone will tell me they find the Mass boring and they just don’t get anything out of it. While we share our Creed with many of our Protestant brothers and sisters, our Cult or worship, how we approach gathering before God sets us apart. In the Church before Mass we don’t talk to one another, not because we don’t want to be friendly, but because we know we are there to see someone greater than all of us. It is time to center our hearts and minds on our encounter with Jesus, who will be present body and blood, soul and divinity in the Mass. Just like the people of Jesus’s villages didn’t see his miracles because he was so familiar. These are great miracles that we may overlook through familiarity.

We find Jesus first in our priest, who is in persona Christi, in the place of Christ in the Mass. These men have sacrificed earthly families and what the world tells us is success to be present to us in Jesus’s place. They offer our sacrifices and through them Jesus makes himself present in the Eucharist. That’s a pretty big deal.

The words of the Bible are the incarnation of the Spirit. Like Jesus, the Bible is fully human and fully divine. The homily is meant to guide us to the Word. (Not getting anything out of today’s homily? Focus on the Word. Jesus is there.)

In the Eucharist, God makes himself fully present to us. Jesus promised he would never leave us alone and keeps that promise in a very real way.

Finally, Jesus is present to us in one another. Think about what happens on a physical level after your receive the Eucharist. Jesus is even more than simply someone we are incapable of conceiving fully, He is fully present in our bodies and becomes a part of who are, physically and spiritually. He is what we carry out into the world.

These are all familiar miracles.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t perform great miracles in his own village, not because he can’t but because Jesus is so familiar, the people have no faith. Do we lose sight of the miraculous because it becomes familiar? We follow Jesus and are present in our villages everyday. When others look at us, are they drawn to know what we know, to love what we love? Or does familiarity with our works strengthen their disbelief?

Jesus, help me to see your great miracles in the Mass and not to lose them through familiarity. Guide me always to live the word, the work and the worship of our Catholic faith in a way that draws others to see through me to You. Amen.

While wearing many hats, Sheryl O’Connor is the wife and study buddy of Thomas O’Connor. Not having received the gift of having their own children, their home is filled with 2 large dogs and their hearts with the teens and youth with whom they work in their parish collaborative. Sheryl is the Director of Strong Families Programs for Holy Family Healthcare which means her job is doing whatever needs to be done to help parents build strong Catholic families. Inspired by the works of mercy, Holy Family Healthcare is a primary healthcare practice in West Michigan which seeks to honor the dignity of every individual as we would Christ. Find out more at https://www.holyfamilyhealthcare.org/