Jesus promised that miracles will happen after his time on earth: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16: 17–18). Also, the Book of Acts narrated several miracles done by the apostles. The power of Christ is transferred to us through the Holy Spirit. This process isn’t limited in saints but also living people have made miracles. God interferes in the existing order of the universe, however He doesn’t restrict it.

As for the way this happens – i.e. the way a blind’s eye becomes a healthy one – the Lord didn’t give us knowledge about that. If something occurred, we notice it without knowing how it happened. Nevertheless, spiritual authorities do not declare, normally, whether that happened or not. Doctors might confess that something has happened and that they have no scientific explanation for it. They confess that especially in illnesses of organs such us the healing of previously closed veins or cancer. However, doctors do not usually give importance for neurotic diseases such as paralysis because they know that many of these are related to psychological reasons. The Church isn’t a faculty of medicine and rarely speaks about such things that happen.

In this sense, questions could be asked about “miraculous icons”. We are not talking about anything other than icons because in our Orthodox Church art we only have those. In all Orthodox countries they say about an icon that it is miraculous. However, theologians say something different. They say that every icon is miraculous because the Lord uses it to heal the person that prayed in front of it; this means that there is no specific icon that carries a power of healing.

Also, the Holy Book doesn’t want us to exaggerate in our interest in miracles. There are three decisive sayings that cool down our fever for miracles. The first one is: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12: 39–40). Yes, Jesus didn’t limit his signs in his resurrection, but it is the sign of signs as it is the greatest among all his miracles and among all miracles that will occur in Church’s history. The second saying of Jesus is: “Believe because of the words I have said or else believe because of the miracles” (John 14). Here, Jesus assures that his words are more important than all miracles and that excessive busyness in miracles indicates weakness in faith. The third sentence is Apostle Paul’s saying: “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1Corinthians 1: 22–23). Christ himself is the one we should preach about and not spend times narrating stories about miracles.

If you saw a miracle and told a person who didn’t believe it, he is free and you cannot accuse him of having a weak faith. Your and his reference is what was written in God’s book and the Orthodox faith in general. If you told him that the virgin has appeared to someone, he is also free not to believe. After Christ, nothing bounds us other than what He said and what the Church said about Him.

People love supernatural things and the Church is cautious towards such things. However, if a miracle happened to you, then it is a message to you from God and it carries no meaning if it didn’t lead you to repentance. A miracle is a personal bond between you and the Lord and could be a bond between the Lord and other people too.

The Divine Word is the only fixed thing. You receive it, and if you understood it in a right way it would save you. Anything else needs a lot of preciseness.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “العجائب اليوم” –Raiati 40- 03.10.2004