I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. –John F. Kennedy, White House dinner for Nobel laureates, 1962
From the First-Black-President (Clinton)/First-Catholic-President (George W. Bush)/First-Gay-President (Obama) File…
Tomorrow’s school homily, aimed at 21st-century Catholics, as opposed to old-fashioned doubters, like Thomas Jefferson:
Last week the second grade wowed me with their knowledge of our Lord’s miracles. In the gospel passage, we hear about Him working not one, but two miracles, including raising a young girl from the dead.
Why did Jesus work miracles? After all, He did not come to the earth to eradicate all illness and suffering. There is still plenty of illness and suffering. But He healed some people during His earthly pilgrimage in order to show us two crucial things:
1. That He is all-powerful. That He possesses the omnipotence of Almighty God. Jesus Christ is no mere man; He is the God-man.
2. But He showed not just raw power with the miracles He worked. Actually, He shrank from conspicuous displays. He didn’t want to wow people like a magician. He worked the particular miracles which He worked because He wants us to believe in Him, and He wants us to believe in something in particular about Him.
Therefore, Christ only worked one particular kind of miracle. He never made huge boulders levitate, or turned people into toads, or made lightning strike His enemies. He only worked miracles that helped people–especially weak, poor, suffering people.
This is because He wanted to reveal that all the divine omnipotence, all the power that made the heavens and the earth—He wanted to reveal that it all has one goal: namely, our well-being. The infinite power of God is a special kind of power. It is love. The miracles of Christ are not just miracles of supernatural stunning-ness. They are miracles of pure, selfless love.
Which means, having read the gospels with open minds, we can settle a question which plagued one of our great forefathers here in our beloved state of Virginia.
In 1781, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Our numberless afflictions make it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath.”
In other words: Is our life a blessing or a curse?
The idea that life is easy, or 100% fun, or pleasant all the time, or a cake walk—all you have to do is ask Pete Carroll or Russell Wilson, and they will tell you that life involves some afflictions.
So the $10,000 question is: Taking all the difficulties of life into account, does God have a plan for it all? A plan which, in the end, involves a good outcome? Is God mean, or is He kind?
Left to ourselves, we wouldn’t know the answer. We would be stuck like Thomas Jefferson was stuck. But Jesus has shown us the truth. Jesus endured the most cruel afflictions Himself in order to show us that: God is love.