Reflection #27: Where Are the Miracles? / A.J. Hendry

Reading: The Book of Acts 3

The man was crippled, he’d given up on healing, he was just out there trying to survive. To beg enough coin to get by, to eat, to live.

When he asked those two men for money, he had maybe hoped for a couple of coins flicked his way, he definitely hadn’t expected what happened next. The men turn to him, and instead of giving him money they say something ridiculous.

“I don’t have any silver or gold for you.” Said the first man. “But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus… get up and walk.”

And he did. He was healed.

When I was young and pentecostal I used to read this story and be fascinated by the healing. Man, how I wanted that gift, I wanted to be able to heal people, to just pray and see the miraculous happen right in front of my eyes.

Today, as I read this passage my mind went somewhere else.

I couldn’t help picturing the man, the one who was crippled, hungry, perhaps in pain, people passing him by, ignoring him as he went in and out of the temple. I couldn’t help thinking of a friend of mind who himself is not able to walk, I imagined where he would be without a wheel chair, without support workers, without community to care for him, how would he survive in this world? Would he?

And then I thought of Peter and John, two men who had nothing. They were not rich men, they and their families likely lived in poverty thanks to the cruel taxation system of the ruling elite, a poverty perhaps only exacerbated by their choice to give up their livelihoods to follow this man they named the Messiah. And so, when they turn to him and say “I dont have any money to give…” I believe they meant it. Which makes their next words even more sincere, “but, what I do have, I’ll give you…”.

The passage says that Peter and John saw this man, and they were seen by him, they recognized his humanity, and overcome by love and compassion, they gave all they had to give, and the miraculous happened.

If you read this passage and your question is “why don’t miracles happen today?”, I believe you’re asking the wrong question.

Yesterday, I was at a wananga discussing the Right2Housing, we heard from a woman who is differently abled, she discussed the challenges that she and her friends face due to living in a world that doesn’t think of them when building the physical spaces they must live in. She spoke about the challenges one must face when you use a wheel chair, challenges from having access to public bathrooms, to being denied access to housing, simply because these homes aren’t designed in a way that can be accessed.

These are problems that we as a society could easily resolve. We could create systems, and spaces that are accessible to all people. We could privilege the voices of those who are marginalized by our own willful ignorance, we have the ability, technology and knowledge, in this day and age, to create a world where our whanau who use wheel chairs are liberated through the physical structures we create. Where we create environments that are accessible to all people, where all are included, where all are welcomed, where all are granted access.

Yet, we don’t.

Why? Let’s be completely honest, the cost of a truly inclusive and accessible society is more than most voters and rate payers want to pay. So, councils and governments, businesses, and developers, do half measures, cut corners, and do the bare minimum. There is always money to throw at the issues the majority want prioritized. There is enough, we are just not willing to give what we have to give.

I used to wonder why we don’t often see the miraculous in the west. I no longer do. To often we pray for God to feed the hungry, as we gorge ourselves with breed, or beg God to house the homeless, while converting our spare room into a man cave, or cry out for God to heal the sick, while denying them access to the health care that could transform their lives.

In the west we have the resources we need to end inequality, to heal the sick, home the homeless, to feed the hungry.

I often look around, at all the unnecessary and dehumanizing suffering that exists in our society and think about how, in reality, it just doesn’t have to be this way.

Perhaps we spend to much time dreaming of miracles, and not enough time praying for the miracle that might just matter the most. That God would do the miraculous, that They would free us from our greed, and liberate us from our own selfishness.

Perhaps, when that miracle finally occurs, the sick will get treatment, the hungry will be feed, and homeless will be housed, until than, what is in your hands to give?

A.J. Hendry

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