God is calling us even higher than miracles.
The faith it takes to believe in miracles is just a start. In reality, says Pope Francis, we are called to keep going higher and avoid being “parked Christians.”
“Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” That was the complaint Jesus made to the official who asked Him to heal his son.
The people knew that Jesus had already performed great miracles; and in Monday’s Gospel reading, the Lord seemed to lose patience, because His miracles seemed to be the only thing that mattered to them.
In his homily at today’s morning Mass, Pope Francis reflected on this passage, saying:
“Where is your faith? Seeing a miracle, a wonder, and saying, ‘You have power, you are God.’ Yes, it is an act of faith, but so small. Because it is evident that this man has a strong power; but faith begins there, but then it has to go forward. Where is your desire for God? Because this is the faith: to have the desire to find God, to encounter Him, to be with Him, to be happy with Him.”
But what is the great miracle the Lord accomplishes? The first reading, taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, explains it for us, the pope said. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth … be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create.” The Lord attracts our desire to the joy of being with Him:
“When the Lord passes into our life and performs a miracle in each of us, and each of us knows what the Lord has done in our life, it does not end there: this is the invitation to go forward, to continue on the journey, ‘seeking the face of God,’ the Psalm says; seeking this joy.”
Miracles, then, are only the beginning, the pope said. He asked what Jesus would think of so many Christians who stay put after the first grace they have received, who do not continue on the journey. He compared them to someone who would go to a restaurant and be content with an appetizer, and who would then return home, not realizing that the main course would be even better:
“Because there are so many Christians who are stopped, who don’t continue on the journey; Christians who have run aground on the concerns of daily life – good things in themselves! – but they don’t grow, they remain small. Parked Christians: they’ve parked. Caged Christians who don’t know how to fly with the dream to this beautiful thing to which the Lord calls us.”
Pope Francis said we can all ask ourselves the question, “What do I really desire?” Do I really desire God, and seek to be with Him? “Or am I afraid? Am I mediocre?” What is the measure of my desire? Am I satisfied with the appetizer, or do I desire the banquet that is set before me?
The Holy Father concluded his reflection by encouraging those present to maintain their desire, to not be content with where they are. “Go forward a little bit, take risks,” he said. “The true Christian takes risks, he goes out of his comfort zone.”