This weekend the Brothers in Christ were asked to pray for the life of an ailing seven-year-old girl. Some might ask what good that does. We pray for many sick people and they often die anyway. When people do survive such sicknesses after a period of prayers, it’s called a coincidence. Even people of faith might ask, why would God spare one life and claim another?
Faithful Christians don’t question the veracity of today’s gospel—one of the several examples of Christ bringing someone back from the dead. He’s God, after all. He could do anything. But what about Elijah in today’s first reading? How did he bring that little boy back from the dead? He was a prophet, not God. He did what we Brothers in Christ are doing for that little girl: he prayed. God worked a miracle through Elijah and restored the boy’s earthly life. Should we expect the same result from our prayers?
No. Anything God does for us He does by grace, not by our earning his favor. Our prayers are conversations with God through which we come to terms with God’s will. That’s straight from the prayer Christ himself taught us: “Thy will be done.” It was God’s will to work those miracles in today’s readings. They wound up in the Bible so endless generations of faithful would recognize the power of God. Christ WAS God, so his miracle was done by the power of his words. As Paul said in the second reading, “I did not receive the Gospel from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
There is a modern urban saying about God’s will: “It’s all good.” That means death as well as life. Certainly for the sake of her family’s desire to keep that little girl in their life, we hope for a repeat of Elijah’s miracle. But that girl has life in God whether she stays with us or goes straight to heaven. That’s Christ’s miracle, and it lives forever inside each of us.