Homily for Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Readings for Today

I was in high school when Al Michaels asked his famous question when the United States Olympic Hockey team beat the Russians in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. In an unbelievable voice, he asked, “Do you believe in miracles?” The win was something else. I remember being quite excited. The Cold War was still in full force, as shortly after these Olympics the United States would boycott the Summer Olympics in the Soviet Union due to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. And so an Olympic victory over a highly touted Soviet Olympic hockey team was something indeed. But a miracle?

Probably not. Though the term is used a lot to discuss unexpected results, such as the recovery of someone quite sick, or even an Olympic hockey game, the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team victory over the Soviets, as unexpected as it was, would not fit the definition. The US Olympic team was good. Of the 20 players on the team, 13 went on to play in the National Hockey League. No, for the Church to consider something a true miracle, then it needs to be inexplicable by natural events.

What do I mean? Well, take the case of Saint AndrĂ© Bessette, the Holy Cross brother who became famous because of his prayers on behalf of the sick. Two miracles are required. The first was the immediate healing of Giuseppe Carlo Audino, a man who had terminal cancer, given a very short time to live in 1958, who became immediately free from cancer after seeking Brother AndrĂ©’s intercession. After rigorous study, it was determined there could be no natural explanation for the healing.

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