What do we do after a miracle?
GOD’S WORD TODAY - Francis D. Alvarez S.J. (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2018 - 12:00am

I was in Grade 4 when the EDSA revolution happened. Thirty-two years later, I still remember the images Bob Garon captured on his camcorder and the songs that I taped when they were played on the radio. “Magkaisa at magsama, kapit-kamay sa bagong pag-asa,” Virna Lisa belted out. But thirty-two years later, are we more united than we were before? “Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo, mapayapang paraang pagbabago,” chorused a group of artists led by the APO Hiking Society. But thirty-two years later, are we more peaceful, and have we really changed?

We had so much good will as capital then. We had a momentous chance to effect lasting institutional change. Looking at ourselves today, I cannot help but ask, “Did we just squander all the opportunities we were blessed with?” We experienced a miracle. What did we do after it?

In our Gospel today, Peter can serve as a mirror for us. After witnessing the great vision of Jesus transfigured, Peter blurted out the first thing that came to mind. Scripture provides us with an explanation for this: “He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified” (Mark 9:6). He was at a loss; they were stunned with awe. Maybe the same thing happened to us. In the aftermath of such a historic event, we were lost and did not really know what to do.

What do we do after a miracle? This question applies not only to the EDSA revolution but to every life-changing event we undergo. If we believe that miracles come not only once in a lifetime but every day, then this question must be asked even after daily encounters with the God who is always in our midst. What should we do after experiencing miracles?

Our Gospel today gives us an answer straight from God: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7). This means reflecting on the meaning of what just happened, praying to God about it, consulting the wisdom of other men and women of faith, turning to Scripture, putting into action what we have heard, and then praying again. But if we are going to honestly listen to Jesus’ answer when we dare to ask him, “So what now?” Then we should steel ourselves for what might come next.

Our first reading today should scare us. Abraham, the man who listened to God when God called him, the father who readily replied, “Here I am!” to the Lord’s summons, is given a terrifying task: He is to sacrifice his son, his only one, whom he loves, to God. The words of Scripture can sometimes be very harsh. Isaac is not just named; it is emphasized that Isaac is Abraham’s only son, the one whom he loves. This is the first time the word love appears in the Bible. The context is not the relationship of Adam and Eve nor of God saving Noah and giving the earth a new beginning. Love is first used in the context of sacrifice.

When we experience a miracle, we should ready ourselves for sacrifice – to offer again what we may have received, to give up our greatest gifts, to let go of what we hold most dear.

“What kind of God is this?” we may ask as so many others who have read Abraham and Isaac’s story have pondered. What kind of God is this? No wonder not many listen to him or even ask, “So what do you want us to do now?”

But Abraham and Isaac’s story does not end with death. Abraham and Isaac’s story does not also end on top of the mountain where Isaac was supposed to be sacrificed. It continues to the hill where Jesus, God’s Son is lifted up on the cross. God stayed Abraham’s hand and did not let him offer his son. But God did not stop the Jewish leaders and the Roman soldiers from crucifying his Son.

Before we get any wrong ideas, God did not send his Son to die. God sent Jesus to love us. But love has consequences. Love must be open to being rejected, to being told, “No.” The cross was humanity’s “No” to God and his Son. But God’s commitment to us is total. His “Yes” is a “Yes” to the end.

The end though is not death. The end is new life. The end is rising from the dead.

So what should we have done after the EDSA revolution? Perhaps we should have listened to God more. Perhaps we should have sacrificed our plans, ambitions, and our old way of doing things. Perhaps we should have given up the old way of running the government and the old way of being citizens.

What should we do after miracles both major and minor? How can we, as God says in our Gospel today, listen to his Son? How can we ask “So what do you want us to do now?” if it means being ready to sacrifice what we are most attached to? We must look at what God has done for us. He Who asks much is also prepared to give us a hundred, a thousand, a millionfold of what we can offer. We let our tentative “yes” be strengthened by his everlasting “Yes.” And when we finally let go, that will be another miracle.

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