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May 01, 2022 784 Graziano Marcheschi, USA
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Looking for Miracles

They happen every day but we seldom notice…

I want to tell you two stories of grace, wonderful grace that came just when I needed it, in fact, just when I asked for it. I think these experiences of grace were miraculous, and before I share them with you I’d like to reflect a bit on miracles.

People will tell you that miracles don’t come on demand… and they are right. Miracles don’t come on demand. But Jesus tells us to ask, and promises that if we ask, we will receive (Matthew 7:7). I firmly believe that when we ask, God hears us and gives us what we truly need.

We need to acknowledge that miracles are a mystery that transcends human understanding. We get glimpses, we have intuitions, but we can never fully understand or explain the workings of God’s grace manifested as “miracles.”

 I Got Nothing!

Many scoff at the notion that “if we ask” we will “receive.” “I asked and got nothing,” some will say. That adds to the mystery. Jesus was a miracle worker, but He didn’t heal everyone in Israel. Millions go to Lourdes, but few miracles are documented. Can we say that people don’t ask “right” or don’t really need what they ask for? No! Only God reads the heart; we cannot judge.

But my experience and that of many others confirms that Jesus spoke the truth when He told us to ask and expect a response from God our Father. So, I believe in miracles, which are simply manifestations of God’s grace— sometimes in dramatic fashion and sometimes not so much, sometimes so obvious that anyone can recognize them and other times so subtle and disguised as “a coincidence” that only eyes of faith can perceive them.

Miracles should be expected…like children expect their mothers to feed them when they are hungry. But kids can’t control the menu. Mom decides the menu otherwise kids would eat mac and cheese every night. Moms never tire of feeding their children. Similarly with God. He never tires of our requests and like our moms He gives us what we need and not the junk food we want.

Miracles are not God performing tricks so we can brag, “Look what God did for me!” God’s miracles answer the deep longings of our hearts reminding us to always rely on Him. When God grants us miracles, He uses them to point to the grace that is all around us in life’s ordinary moments—each day’s sunrise, a hand extended in apology, a hug of forgiveness, an act of selflessness. Only if we recognize life’s ordinary miracles can we expect to see the extraordinary ones.

Miracles build faith, they don’t replace it. When we are constantly seeing miracles, we don’t need much faith. But when God is silent and obvious blessings are removed, we have an opportunity to live our faith more deeply. That’s why we may see more miracles when we are new in the faith than when we have matured.

Story One

Years ago, my wife Nancy and I taught in a summer Ministry Institute at a large Catholic urban university. Each summer we put on a show of dance and drama which we wrote and rehearsed during the six weeks of the Institute. Our performers were Institute students who came from all over the country and all over the world. After five years of creating these moving and exciting programs we were well-known and respected by Institute students and faculty alike. We cherished this amazing opportunity to impact ministry professionals from all over the world as they learned from us how to use the performing arts as a powerful resource for ministry and education.

But prior to our sixth summer we were told we would not be directing our summer production any longer and were invited instead to teach a course. We accepted, and taught our class, contributed artistically to liturgies, and tried to be as “present” as we could, but it just wasn’t the same. We missed the work, the interaction, the creativity, and the unique contribution we had made each of the previous five summers.

Walking across the campus one day I found myself feeling dispirited about our diminished role. I entered a university building from the south end lamenting to the Lord that I needed some evidence that our presence mattered, that we still made a difference. I walked through the building atrium and by the time I exited the north of the building my prayer was answered. Standing at the top of a long set of steps I saw a car suddenly stop on the street below. With the engine running, the driver jumped out and called my name.

“Oh, Graz,” she said, “I’m so glad to see you. I wanted to tell you how glad I am that you are here at the Institute. You and Nancy make such a difference, it just wouldn’t be the same without you. Thank you for everything you do.” And with that, she hopped back into her car and drove off. “Wow, Lord,” I thought, “that was fast!”

Story Two

 Flash forward a dozen years. I am the director of an Archdiocesan office in Chicago. I am having a hard week, feeling discouraged, not sure whether I am doing what God wants me to be doing. I am in the kitchen of our office building, washing my lunch dishes and I pray, “Lord, You used to give me little signs that You were taking care of me, that I was doing Your will…I need one of those signs now.”

The next morning, still despondent, I decide to skip work. It’s summer, the kids are off school, so I announce: “Dad’s playing hooky today. Who wants to go to a Cubs game?” I don’t even know if the Chicago Cubs are in town, but we check and they are, and off we go.

We drop the kids off at one of the gates to stand in line for tickets and head off to park. Parking is always a challenge at Wrigley Field. Either you park very far away and walk, or you pay a fortune in a parking lot. Neither option is realistic—we’re running too late for a long walk and paying an exorbitant parking lot fee would destroy my budget. I make the ridiculous choice to look for street parking.

Impossibly, directly in front of the entry gate there’s a spot at a parking meter. For two dollars I will get a maximum of two hours, which means I will have to leave the park, feed the meter, and return to the game (I don’t realize that leaving and returning is not allowed). As I exit my car, I see a woman on the opposite side of the street getting ready to pull out of her parking spot. That side has no meters! I run to her, explain my situation and ask if she will wait until I pull out so I can take her spot. She happily obliges.

I have got free street parking one minute away from Wrigley Field. Unbelievable! Nancy and I hurry to the children where an even bigger surprise awaits. Our daughter calls excitedly, “Dad,” she says, “we got free tickets.”

“What?” I ask in disbelief.

She explains: “A man asked me and Christopher if we were going to the game. I said yes and he said he was here with a big group and some people didn’t show up, so he gave me two tickets. Then I said, ‘What about my mom and dad?’

‘Oh, your parents are here, too?’ Here you go. Two more tickets.”

Free parking and free tickets to a Cubs game! God gave me my sign.

Objectively, you might say all I got was a little affirmation one time and some freebies the next. However the fact that God graciously provided exactly what I needed just when I asked for it, that was the miracle.

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Graziano Marcheschi

Graziano Marcheschi serves as the Senior Programming Consultant for Shalom World. He speaks nationally and internationally on topics of liturgy and the arts, scripture, spirituality, and lay ecclesial ministry. Graziano and his wife Nancy are blessed with two daughters, a son, and three grandchildren and live in Chicago.

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