Prepared for YOU by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP
Let’s focus more on the ANGEL experience and the topic of Miracles. Whether or not you are open to believe in angels, many people have what they call a NUMINOUS experience or an experience of sublime, positive energy that is akin to what is depicted here in what the Christian tradition calls, “The Annunciation,” the great announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary. However you choose to identify the situation, whether you understand it as a divine intervention or simply a personal, deep inspiration or premonition of what God is capable of, a powerful CHAIN REACTION occurs—an overflow of hope and all of its possibilities.
For Christians, being designated as “full of grace,” or “full of God’s favor” provides the necessary condition for humanity to be open to the miraculous—that is in this part of the Gospel to angels, to their inspiration and to what God may achieve. In evidence here is the biblical truth that God loves us First, that God’s love initiates all things. In this case, Mary’s assent is a response to God’s love that inaugurates the miracle of a virgin conceiving a child without a human male’s contribution. In religious language we call this miracle “INCARNATION”—God becoming fully human in order to identify with the human condition in all of its fullness beginning in and with the fertilized ovum or embryo attaching to a virgin’s womb. Believing in that, of course, is a matter of faith, both faith in miracles and faith in the claims of Christianity.
Some say that one is either open to the mystery of the miraculous, the suspension of the laws of physics, biology, natural phenomena, or one is not. At the same time, some miracles can be explained scientifically without in any way detracting from a belief that God is acting in the world. Still, some phenomena such as Messiah’s conception in Mary’s womb cannot be explained scientifically at all.
Here are some questions for discussion:
QUESTION 1: To what degree do you feel compelled to insist on explanations for all events of your life or world history? What motivates you to take a leap of faith? What are your personal obstacles to faith?
QUESTION 2: Does a scientific explanation for an event dismiss the possibility of God’s intervention in history or participation in it? Similarly, can the “miracles” of modern science –the ability to engage in organ transplants, cure diseases – be also understood as God’s spirit at work in the world? Are they any less “miraculous,” in being explained in medical terms?
QUESTION 3: Can you agree that “mystery” is a common human experience whether one follows or does not follow a religion?
QUESTION 4: Discuss the benefits and burdens of each worldview, i.e.
a. belief in miracles
b. the power of God or of “goodness” working through people
c. trust in mystery
d. rejection of all of the above concepts
QUESTION 5: Whether or not you find yourself open to the miraculous or unexplainable phenomenon, what do you think is the meaning and purpose of Mary’s virgin conception of Jesus?
QUESTION 6: Christians uphold a belief in the Incarnation — God becoming human in, through and as Jesus of Nazareth, but one doesn’t have to be Christian to explore this aspect of our faith, that is, that “God shares in all dynamics of the human condition.” To what extent to those upholding other religions and spiritualities uphold or explore that statement? Discuss how or how not “God or “Your Higher Power” or “The Cosmos” share in all dynamics of the human condition.” In secular terms: “we all participate in something greater than ourselves, be it beauty, truth, hope, justice, mercy, compassion, love beyond all telling.”