HAD A VERY INTERESTING online discussion early last week with several members of a Catholic writers group. Initially, was just mentioning in passing what Jim Murphy spoke about the sufferings of Jesus, how he showed many gruesome pictures of Jesus' wounds 'recreated' by scientists who have examined the Shroud of Turin. And how touched i was to learn that my parish holds a cross which contains relics from the True Cross.
Then someone, E., threw a spanner in the works and said, "But how do you KNOW? There are enough fragments of the True Cross out there to rebuild the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria."
I WAS STUNNED momentarily. Then suddenly, was quite amused by it all. Responded online, "Hahahaha! i guess what's left is a matter of faith. Reminds me of The Maldonado Miracle show on Hallmark. It's highly probable that what we have in Holy Cross is part of the True Cross, and i'll choose to believe so. i was a non-Catholic the first time i entered the church that was to become my parish 10 years later. And believe it or not, i was there to attend the first stations of the cross in my whole life, and not just once but consecutively for almost the whole Lent. It's significant to me that i did this in the Church of the Holy Cross which houses relics from the True Cross."
Providentially, Hallmark screened The Maldonado Miracle again on Thursday evening while i was watching the SM@80 show. Had a chance to re-watch the movie and re-think my thoughts about faith.
That was really a great movie: funny, realistic and spiritual. A synopsis from the Web: "With half the population closing up shop and moving away, the remaining citizens of San Ramos are giving up hope on their small dusty town. Even the town priest, Father Russell, is frustrated with his powerlessness to prevent the town from slipping away. But when his devout parishioner Josephina shrieks "Milagro, milagro!" upon witnessing what she believes to be blood dripping from the eyes of the Christ figure inside the church, the town becomes a magnet for religious pilgrims, fanatics, and the infirm, not to mention media and money interests. What the town doesn't know is that its hometown "miracle" is bound closely with the plight of a young boy, Jose Maldonado, an illegal immigrant who is desperately looking for his father and whom the townspeople are determined to capture and deport."
The Maldonado movie ends leaving an open question in the viewer's mind, "Was that a real miracle or was it not?"
After watching the show a second time, my thoughts became clearer: At the end of the day, whether it was a real miracle didn't really matter. What mattered was because of faith, many people experienced little miracles in their own lives.
In other words, the manifestation of God's power does not depend on people seeing miracles or touching relics, but rather on the people's faith -- with or without miracles or relics. However, the presence of miracles or relics (false or real) can help in reawakening and re-focussing the people's faith in God.
Afterall, didn't Mark 6:1-6 tell us that when Jesus went to Nazareth "he was not able to perform any mighty deed there... He was amazed at their lack of faith" (vv. 5 and 6) and Matthew 13:58 "he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith"?
Fr. John De Celles perhaps explains this phenomenon more aptly in an online Catholic Herald article, Gospel Commentary: Sacred Heart of Jesus, where he postulates that "Lack of faith does not render God powerless. It merely renders the faithless unworthy of His power."
Then again, did i have more faith than others each time i experience something supernatural that was not experienced by others? Who can truly predict what God will do and why?