Introduce Blessing of Throats

At the end of Mass - come up -there’ll be a number of us.
Ancient blessing - since St. Blaise was martyred somewhere
between 316 and 320, in Armenia.
On the way to his martyrdom Blaise encountered a small boy
choking on a fishbone.  His mother had been crying out to
this bishop to do something.  Blaise prayed over the boy, the
fishbone was dislodged, and this blessing was born.
In this blessing of throats, we ask that St. Blaise intercede
with God for our health.  It’s that simple.
A blessing is a prayer - through which the person being
blessed experiences the favor and the mercy of God.  We
praise God for His goodness and ask for His help.

Our priests and deacons will be joined by Extraordinary
Ministers of Holy Communion in offering the blessing today.  
Don’t be surprised by that.  Lay persons can and should give
many blessings.  

I’m reminded of one of my best friends in the seminary - who
became Father Ed Rego of Fall River.  He never left his father’
s house without kneeling in front of his father to receive the
father’s blessing.
And this is a perfect segue into today’s Gospel, which exalts
Jesus as a wonder worker, a worker of miracles.

***

Mark’s Gospel is thrilling.
Jesus is seen as a man of action, who does everything
immediately.
Here he enters the house of Simon and cures his mother-in-
law.
Soon, the whole town came at him. They’re gathered at the
door. They bring all who are possessed by demons and the
ill.  He heals them all.
The next morning Simon says: “Everyone is looking for you.”
A frenzy has set in.  Jesus speaks with authority - casts out
demons - now he’s healing people.  Imagine the effect on the
people.

Here’s the major point I want to make today.  We believe that
these cures happened.  The Church believes in miracles.

A lot of modern people - even some modern biblical scholars
- tend to scoff at miracles - and this started with some
philosophers a few centuries ago. But there was no question
that early Christians, and the witnesses of Jesus, believed in
miracles.  And the Church does today.
Sometimes modern people just put miracles down as ‘fuzzy
thinking’ on the part of ancient people who, after all, were
really quite primitive in their outlook and didn’t know any
better.

Some Bible commentators ignore them or turn them into
spiritual symbols.

Take the Gospel story about the feeding of the 5,000 with a
few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.  Some will say,
“Well, it’s a nice story.  But the real miracle is that Christ got
people to share their bread.  And that’s kind of a miracle.”  
Well, that tugs at the heart, but there’s not much there.  

Sixteen centuries ago St. Augustine responded to that kind
of thinking when he said: ‘What’s the feeding of the 5,000
compared with the patient process by which hundreds of
millions of acres of wheat shoot up and bud and mature,
under God’s hand, to make the slices of bread which we
forgot to say grace over yesterday”?

One thing that’s undeniable is that the first Christians were
intensely interested in miracles.

And, we can’t explain away the enormous popularity of
Jesus in his time as a worker of great wonders.  The crowds
witness the blind seeing, the lame walking, the deaf hearing,
people being healed of every kind of affliction and, in 3
special cases, dead people being raised to life.

Now, there’s no doubt that God typically lets the universe
run according to its own natural laws – laws He established -
but from time to time what’s to prevent God from signaling
his presence to us in miraculous ways?

Physical healing is not the only kind of healing - but I pray for
that gift with people every week.  And, I love that bumper
sticker that simply says: “Expect Miracles.”

With that said, I want to recommend two books about the
subject.

The first is one of my favorites and unfortunately it’s largely
out of print but you can get it in the library.
‘Miracles,’ 1928
Ronald Knox
70 pages.

It’s filled with marvelous passages like this:

“We see miraculous wonders every day – like the way the
universe works - and we accept them as normal - part of God’
s plan - and yet when we hear of one poor cripple at Lourdes
being healed we say, ‘Impossible.’  The same power which
sent the stars of the universe rolling on their courses gives
sudden health to a cripple and we say ‘No way.’”

‘Miracles’ is a timeless book.

But there’s a new book out, just published in November,
written by a top-level Protestant bible scholar, Craig Keener.  
This massive 4-volume work is called, “Miracles:  The
Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.”In 1,248 pages
Keener draws on thousands of miracles that are happening
today, on every continent.  The evidence of the miraculous is
overwhelming.

Why God doesn’t heal everyone we don’t know.  We’ll
understand that later, in a time when there will be no more
tears or suffering.  But what is clear is that in his own time
Jesus was seen as a worker of miracles.  He came to knit
back creation that was broken, a work that won’t be
completed until the end of time.

In faith, then, expect to see great wonders.

Simon said, “Lord, everyone is looking for you.”

So should we.