For me the miracle of the day is the power of a story that has lasted for 20 centuries. Billions world-wide are moved to go to a house of worship just to honor a story that has mesmerized the world since ancient times. While sitting at the front of an old Catholic church one Sunday two years ago, I thought of the modern-day miracle I witness each year. I guess I think of it every year. Here are those thoughts again:
Since it is Easter I thought it only right to talk about a miracle. I know what you are thinking. It is the rising from the dead that I am talking about, but that is not quite it. This came to mind at the noon mass when Father Rex posed the question, “How do we know that Jesus arose from the dead? What proof do we have?”
It would seem Father is on a little shaky ground right there. We would all like the proof, but what can he offer us? The usual tactic for the Easter sermon seems to be to tell us what happened and to celebrate the day. Father Rex, however, had decided to take on the big question. Even more, he seemed rather calm about it, like he actually knew something. I could not mistake his calm spirit because I was seated on the side and as close to the lectern (podium? ambo?) as one could get in that church.
He was sure that there was a resurrection because he knew Christ lived everyday in his heart. He offered to us that we could all know that, for the same reason, of course. I guess he was not out on a limb after all. It was a reasonable position that I have heard priests state before. From this point we could all be sent forth to lead good lives.
Before he was finished, I knew he missed talking about the big miracle that happened today. I could see it clearly when I was standing at the lectern earlier for the second reading. As a matter of fact, I have seen it every Easter, but only recognized it in recent years for what it is. That would be the proof. Yes, the proof everyone wants. There it was for all to see. It was in our neighbors eyes if not indeed in their hearts.
Approximately two thousand years ago, as the story goes, Christ died and rose again three days later. Many false prophets had come along and some even claimed to be the Messiah. Who are these others? What happened to their stories? Why are there no masses to any of those Messiahs?
Today’s miracle is that the power of the story itself drew people to churches all over the world. They come not just in the millions, but rather the billions. It is estimated that one-third of the earth’s population is Christian, and whether they are regular church goers or not, they want to be in Church on Easter. They want to hear the story again. They want to feel comfort in the thought of life after death. They believe the religious activist known as Jesus of Nazareth is indeed God. The power of the story that draws them in each year is the miracle of the day. I guess it really is “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”