Christ the Miracle Worker in the Eucharist

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., S.T.D.

During His visible stay on earth Christ performed countless miracles. He restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and the use of their limbs to the paralyzed. The winds and sea obeyed Him. He told the dead Lazarus to come forth, and Lazarus came out of the grave. The crowning miracle of Christ's visible stay on earth was to raise Himself by His own divine power on Easter Sunday.

But Christ continues performing miracles in our day. I know of no single statement I can share with you that is more practically important than to be convinced that Christ works and wants to perform miracles in our favor today. And that we can add, for the best of reasons, because Jesus Christ is still on earth. And He promised, "Behold, I am with you all days even to the end of the world."

Miracles through Christ's Visible Humanity.

As we examine the Gospel narratives we find two remarkable facts. First, Jesus regularly associated His teaching with working with what John calls "signs and wonders". These signs and wonders made His humanly incomprehensible teaching believable. Miracles are necessary to make God's revelation credible. Please do not forget that. That statement is an article of the Catholic Faith.

Secondly - Christ during His visible stay on earth worked these miracles of course as God, but always through His humanity. In other words, the miracles performed by Jesus in Palestine were always the result of human words spoken, or the result of the touch of Christ's human hands. On one dramatic occasion a women was suddenly healed of years of hemorrhaging the moment she tugged on Christ's garments.

We are also told that on occasion that Jesus could not (this is the Almighty) perform miracles in certain places. Why not? Because of the people's lack of faith. The two words humanity and faith are crucial to an understanding to the working of miracles.

The Key to the Eucharist is the Humanity of Jesus Christ.

At this point we turn to the Real Presence and we ask ourselves. "What is this Real Presence?" In one declarative sentence - It is Jesus Christ - true God, but, with emphasis, also - true man. It is the same identical Jesus who changed water into wine at Cana in Galilee. The same who invited Peter to come to Him walking on the water. The Real Presence is the real Jesus with real flesh and real blood, with the same hands and feet and open side that He told the doubting Thomas to touch and believe.

He wants us to believe that He is in the Holy Eucharist with the fullness of His humanity, and also to believe that His human nature is united with the second person of the Holy Trinity. Christ's contemporaries during His visible stay on earth had only to believe that the man that they saw with bodily eyes was the Incarnate God. We however are to believe that what looks like bread and tastes like wine is the Son of God who became the Son of Mary.

Faith, the Condition for Christ's Performing Miracles.

Faith, I repeat is the condition for Christ performing miracles. Is it any wonder that our faith in the Real Presence, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, should be rewarded by miraculous phenomena. But, what an important adversative, but, you must believe!

What Is A Miracle?

It would be equally useful to know that God works different kinds of miracles. Different levels, if you wish, of miracles. It would be especially useful to know that our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament performs the highest kinds of miracles which only He, our Incarnate God, can produce. And just for the record, physical miracles are the lowest level of miraculous phenomena.
On a higher level than physical miracles is the performance of what the Church calls moral miracles. The lives of saints like Francis of Assisi and Thomas More. The deaths of martyrs like St. Agnes and Maria Goretti. These are witnesses to the miraculous power that Christ has given to His most beloved followers over the centuries. In other words, every canonized saint is a moral miracle.
Finally, still on the different levels of miraculous phenomena there are intellectual miracles in which God enlightens the human mind beyond all natural capacity for acquiring knowledge. The most obvious witnesses to this highest level in the time of Christ were (Shall I say it?) the dense thick-headed Apostles. God had to enlighten them, and this is part of our faith - miraculously. However, over the centuries Christ has continued performing these miracles of the intellect. In a St. Augustine of Hippo, and in a St. Therese of Avila, or in a Catherine of Siena. These testify to the power of Christ, the Incarnate Truth, can produce among human beings who believe that He is indeed the Living God in human form.

Physical Miracles through the Holy Eucharist.

One of the classic examples is the sudden cure recorded by a physician who was part of the examining board at the Lourdes shrine. According to this physician the sudden healing of a women dying of cancer was the most medically remarkable experience he had in his two decades of working with the examining board. She arrived at Lourdes in a dying condition. First she was immersed at the water at Lourdes. The first effect was excruciating pain. Then the pain ceased but the cancer remained. It was only the next day when the priest blessed her with the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance that she was immediately cured of her cancerous condition.

Moral Miracles.

The lives of the saints, what an eloquent testimony these are to the super, super human graces that Christ confers on those who come to Him believing in His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Among these graces none is more exalted than the power of extraordinary patience in suffering. What the Eucharistic Savior gives to those who invoke Him in the Blessed Sacrament.
It is Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament who confers the humanly impossible power of enduring pain, suffering, and doing so heroically. Especially as I keep telling one audience after another, suffering from those we love. Oh how they can cause us pain indeed agony! If we love them, which is humanly impossible, it is because Jesus Christ is on earth to perform the moral miracles of providing us with the strength we need to follow His example, and as He did, so we embrace our cross.

Intellectual Miracles.

St. Paul could not be more clear. He tells us, "Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for. The evidence of things that are not seen. For by faith the men of old had testimony born to them. By faith we understand that the world was fashioned by the Word of God, and thus things visible were made out of things invisible." (Hebrews 11:1)
Everything in Christianity finally depends on our faith. The mind must be enlightened by the light of the Living God. In order to know what is God's will at every moment of our lives. The more deep our faith, the deeper our hope. The stronger our faith the more selfless our love. The human will is a blind faculty. We don't know with our wills alone what to choose, what to reject, what to love. Our wills must be enlightened by the mind and the mind must be enlightened by the mind of the Living God who became man. Christ's intellect is to be the guide for our intelligence. I repeat once more - how indispensable is prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to enlighten these dull, blind minds of ours; to understand what we believe and to know how we are to behave.