And Jesus went with them,
but when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, Go, and he goes;
and to another, Come here, and he comes;
and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
When the messengers returned to the house,
they found the slave in good health. – Luke 7.6 – 10
The Gospel reading for today is one of my favorite miracle stories in the Gospel narratives, in part, because of the certainty and confidence of the centurion, who seems to understand the power of the spoken word, and the order of authority.
The Gospels rarely explain what miracles are, just that they occur. Many of Jesus’ miracles are miracles of physical healing – which are very inspiring to us. Other miracles, are more personal, inward, even psychological. Three stand out like beacons of hope: Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3.1-21); Jesus and Nathaniel (John 1.47), and most astonishing of all, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4.1-42).
What all miracles have in common is that they are a suspension of the ordinary rules, by an in-breaking of grace and power that makes that miracle-moment or event a law unto itself, bringing the unexpected and making the impossible, possible.
Among the many outstanding commentaries on what miracles are, I find that the opening chapter of A Course in Miracles is unparalleled in its wisdom:
“There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not ‘harder’ or ‘bigger’ than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal. Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, which is far beyond evaluation. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle. All miracles mean life, and God is the Giver of life. God’s Voice will direct you specifically.“(A Course in Miracles, p.3)
That there is no order of difficulty can encourage each of us, as we confront our needs and situations, especially the really big, daunting and overwhelming situations. The order of difficulty is only in our experience, which is often then overlaid with further defeating and constraining thoughts of mind: that could never happen; the cancer is too widespread; the debt to large; the situation too far gone; the relationship too broken, etc.
Perhaps we can continue to realize, with the centurion, that no matter the complexity or intensity of the situation we are facing and requesting a miracle for, divine grace and action is not limited by the scale of the need or situation.
Miracles may only be limited by our unwillingness to believe that there is no order of difficulty in miracles. Why? Because there is nothing greater and more authoritative than conscious-love requested and agreed upon by two or three in the Name of Christ, which is our ongoing connection to the embodied Love of Jesus, through the streaming power of the Holy Spirit.
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