Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY, 1936.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him.” The Greek word for “miracle” in this text means “a sign of secret power.” A general definition of miracle is “an event for which no force or combination of forces known to man can account.” Our Lord declared to His apostles that all power is liven to Him in heaven and earth. All His miracles were signs of supernatural power. Our Lord’s miracles were signs “not to believers but to unbelievers.” For believers His word was sufficient. “If ye will not believe me,” said Our Lord to the Jews, “believe the works.” Belief in His word was a more perfect act of faith than belief in a work.
The signs were given to the shepherds at His birth. Signs were given throughout His public ministry. They were given at His death, and after His death at His resurrection and ascension. Unbelievers remained unconverted and grew bitter in unbelief, adding hatred to doubt. Conversions came through His word to the men of good will to whom He said, “I call you friends.” Their discipleship grew out of personal trust in Him.
Satan demanded signs of power and was refused. The curiously-minded sought such signs and were rebuffed. The Jews demanded that He come down from the Cross, as an acceptable sign to them that He was truly the Son of God. They were all refused.
The miracles were for those who had faith. For them water was changed into wine, loaves were multiplied, diseases were cured, the dead were raised and sins were forgiven. All who in simple trust called upon Him were helped. But always there was imposed the test of trust. “Believest thou? If thou canst believe. Thy faith hath saved thee.” This test of faith was even applied to the Blessed Mother, as we read in today’s Gospel, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” Mary trusted and knew how to wait. “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”
To the Mother whom all generations shall call blessed, to all alike, always, everywhere the test is the same, the test of personal trust in Our Lord and in His word. This trust is the foundation of unswerving discipleship. This personal trust is something far removed from and far above mere wonder at a miracle.
The lives of the disciples proved this. The Blessed Mother gave to them their example. She saw her Son crucified, dead, and buried. The disciples were ready to endure martyrdom from which they never prayed to be delivered. There was no happy escape for them. But there was a glorious friendship with Our Lord which triumphed over every persecution. Like Saint Stephen they saw their Master in the sky. In the end each saw the miracle. But it was a greater miracle than they had ever imagined or hoped for.
So long as ages of faith shall last, so long ages of miracles will last. We have only to look back over our own lives to prove this. We need not unveil the circumstances under which we gained our experiences in prayer. Broadly speaking our experiences have been alike. Our anxieties, sorrows, penitence brought us intimately to Our Lord. And now as we look back we see that over and over again, our lives have been governed, guided and changed by a secret power, for which no natural force or combination of forces known to man can account. Our lives have been filled with miracles.
Affectionately in Our Lord,