On being a ‘miracle worker’

September 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I spent the morning with a longtime Catholic educator and administrator who is now the President of a Catholic high school in San Diego. For me, he’s served as a mentor and source of wisdom for all matters in Jesuit education, and our recent encounter was typically enriching. At our breakfast, he told me something that I’ve thought about just about every day since.

Talking about our mission as Catholic educators, he said he tells his teachers to be “miracle workers.”

This was powerful. Powerful because it demonstrated a great optimism, a great hope, a sense of the sacredness and transcendence of education. I’ve thought, “Yes, I want to be a miracle worker. Yes, I want to do great things!”

At the same time, in the midst of these exhilarating thoughts, I remember that I am not a messiah. I am no one’s savior, and the moment I begin to conceive of myself or my lesson plans as bearing salvific powers, the moment I deny the truth of creation. God alone is God. God alone saves. God alone performs miracles.

If I am part of a miracle, it is not because I possess miraculous powers. Mary didn’t even possess miraculous powers. She herself didn’t bring about the Incarnation — it was her role to say “yes” to letting it happen. Likewise, I will participate in a miracle not when I become superhuman, but rather, when I let my very ordinary powers be transformed, when I give permission for my mundane acts to serve as channels for God’s grace.

Posted by Matt Emerson.

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