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Religion: Miracles



It was again a pleasure to escape from the real world to the kind world of the Sunday mass at the Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio. However, the cathedral could not escape from the real world. Our posting on the Alamo lamented that this once peace-loving Franciscan mission had been the scene of a bloody massacre. In this episode, the Cathedral served as an observation post. San Antonio was founded as a Spanish military base, named after San Fernando, King Ferdinand III of Castile who conquered Cordoba, Seville, Murcia and Jaén, and reduced Muslim Granada to a vassal state. He represented the Church Militant, whereas San Antonio de Padua (St. Anthony), is the Franciscan patron of children, whose spirit, rather than that of San Fernando, lives on in the cathedral, not the mission. Today San Antonio is an important US military center, so the city continues to serve Church and State.

The theme of today's mass was light. The Old Testament lesson told how Saul was sent to Jesse's home to anoint the King of Israel. Jesse showed him his seven children, but Saul said the king was not one of them. So they brought in the youngest, David, who had been taking care of the flock. He was the anointed one. Moral: Do not be fooled by appearances and rank. Look for the real person behind these.

The New Testament reading concerned a man who had been blind from birth. Jesus spat on the ground, took up the mud, and put it on the man's eyes. He saw, and rushed to the Temple to tell the Pharisees, who dismissed him as an impostor. I don't blame them; I would have done the same. The man returned to Jesus, who told him he saw God.

This brings us to the subject of miracles, which play such a role in the Catholic faith and have aroused so much skepticism. The problem is that the Old Testament is full of miracles performed not as a kind gesture but to promote the military prowess of the Jews. Miracles play almost no part in Islam, which however recognizes the virgin birth of Christ. In this regard Islam is closer to the modern world than the Catholic faith. The rejection of miracles must have been the result of long discussions and of alleged miracles which discredited the whole miracles business. This was later a cause of the Protestant "heresy".

Ronald Hilton - 3/10/02


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