This past Sunday I shared a video clip with some Middle School young people on Jesus accomplishing miracles. I needed to make sure they understood the concept of “miracle” as the bible describes such events and not with the use of the term as our culture might use “miracle” (e.g., the safe landing of the “Miracle” on the Hudson, or the USA Olympic Hockey “Miracle” on Ice, or even that it will be a “miracle” if the Mets win another World Series in my lifetime!) I even asked them to share what “miracle” they might ask God for because they understand that what they are asking for is beyond our human capacity to accomplish. Remember these are 12 and 13 year olds.
One wryly prayed that God might undo our political process and neither candidate be elected President; one would wish that the evil of slavery might be undone and its scars no longer felt; and the others in one fashion or another prayed that there really might be peace on our earth. They all sadly admitted that they know that none of these will ever happen short of God’s intervention. There is no hope on their part.
At first I was struck by both their honesty and their loss of innocence. Their appraisal of humanity’s abilities is far less optimistic than mine was at their age. But I was also struck by how deep was their theological insight: without grace, humans cannot save themselves. We don’t carry within us the ability to make things right among ourselves or with God.
These young people innately comprehend that it is the power of grace alone and our openness to that power that will make for any hope or change. With Christ, miracles can happen (or as we pray: “through Him, with Him and in Him…”). Shun Him, and humanity remains in the mess it creates for itself: war, slavery, political animosity, bigotry, poverty and all the darker aspects of life that our youth believe are on their horizon.