Doing God’s Will vs. Working Miracles
Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
10/06/2007 — 26th Saturday of Ordinary Time
PCPA Hanceville Mass
For one who has the experience of delivering a possessed person to freedom would have a sense of great joy, a sense of power in their person. It’s like the 72 disciples who just came back from their deliverance ministry. They were exorcizing persons who had perhaps full demonic possession or demonic obsession or oppression. They were so excited of what they accomplished, they had to shout and share their joy with the Lord: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of Your Name.”
One who may be part of a deliverance ministry team or an exorcist can relate to the joy these 72 disciples had. The demons were obedient to them that they follow their directions to be quiet and to get out of that person’s body. Perhaps part of the reasons that lead one to rejoicing is knowing the fact that demons are angels (fallen angels to be specific); yet the dumbest and weakest fallen angels are still stronger than any smartest and strongest man on earth. So one would feel like little David who crushed the big Goliath. Sure, one would experience a sense of power in their person when the demons obeyed him. Or perhaps a priest may just simply place a portion of his priestly stole on the possessed person. Then, the demons would go crazy and tell the priest to stop because he’s hurting them. Sure, one would experience a sense of power that he has that is out of this world.
But then Jesus directed their minds and hearts to the proper rejoicing. He said, “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.” Jesus corrected His disciples. He helped them see the right reason for rejoicing lies in the hope of reaching heaven. It is not in the power to do miracles that we should rejoice. Remember what Jesus said other times. One day many will say to Him, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not cast out demons in your name? Did we not do many mighty works in your name?” To some Jesus would say, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers.” In the eyes of God, doing His holy will at all times is more important than working miracles. Doing miracles does not guarantee salvation. It does not guarantee 100% assurance to always be in the right path. Doing God’s will does assure one he’s in the right path to salvation.
I remember my beloved late former spiritual director told me about a priest who was appointed to be an exorcist for his diocese. For a priest to be appointed as an exorcist for his diocese, one must have particular qualities. The Code of Canon Law specifically requires four characteristics. The priest must have piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life. So, he’s appointed to be an exorcist. He must have done some miracles of casting out demons. He must have experienced that sense of joy being powerful like the 72 disciples had. But what is he doing today? Is he still doing miracles of casting out demons? Not only is he no longer an exorcist today, he’s not even a priest today. He is now “married” to a woman.
Doing miracles does not guarantee our names to be written in Heaven. Doing God’s will does assure one he’s in the right path. Indeed, the danger of performing miracles is that one is thinking of doing it on his own power. One does not give credit to God or to Jesus where credit is due. One can easily fall into pride.
If we’re gifted on performing miracles... if we’re gifted on doing something good... if we’re gifted on being an expert on some areas, always be aware where those gifts come from. Take the 3-points advice of St. Augustine which virtues to cultivate: 1) humility, 2) humility, and 3) humility. Without cultivating humility and giving credit properly to whoever is due, we’d be on a slippery slope of salvation.
Regarding humility, Fr. Dubay wrote in his book Seeking Spiritual Direction:
Everyone instinctively recognizes that genuine humility is a mark of authenticity. We find attractive the unassuming, docile person who is content to be unknown and unrecognized. People who magnanimously do what is right, who perhaps show extraordinary skill and talent, yet have not the least care that others either notice or applaud, are very dear to God. They can say with the psalmist, “I look to no one else in heaven, I delight in nothing else on earth... My joy lies in being close to God” (Ps. 73:25,28)...
And if this week has a particular theme or name, I’d call it the week that God calls us to be little... to be humble... to be childlike. Throughout the week, the gospel passage has similar call to be little. On Monday, we celebrated the feast of St. Thérèse. The gospel passage was when Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” On Tuesday, we celebrated the feast of our Guardian Angel. The gospel passage was taken from the same one as St. Thérèse’s with a couple more lines added. On Thursday, we celebrated the great solemnity of our Holy Father St. Francis of Assisi. The gospel passage was from St. Matthew where Jesus prayed to the Father, “You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned. And You have revealed them to babes.” And today’s passage is from St. Luke which is the parallel of that gospel. Again, we heard Our Lord’s prayer to the Father, “You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the childlike.” Today particularly here in the Shrine, we celebrate the memorial of St. Alexander of Trier who I think was a little boy martyred in the 3rd century. He was a German martyr. He and his companions were executed by the Trier Roman Prefect in the reign of Emperor Diocletian. And the relic of St. Alexander of Trier is placed on this altar here at this shrine. God calls us particularly this week to be humble... to be little... to be childlike.
Finally, St. Jose Maria Escriva says:
To become children we must renounce our pride and self-sufficiency, recognizing that we can do nothing by ourselves. We must realize that we need grace. And we need the help of God our Father to find our way and to keep it. To be humble — to be little, you have to abandon yourself as children do, believe as children believe, and beg as children beg.