If you ask my daughters what a miracle is the ten-year-old will say, “Babies!” The eight-year-old will tell you about how Sarah, the wife of Abraham, gave birth to Isaac in her old age, which is actually part of a bigger miracle. My twenty-four-year-old will tell you the entire Old Testament tells the miracle of salvation history. My five- and seven-year-olds will tell you that Christ is the greatest miracle of all. To be a Christian is, obviously, to believe in miracles.
But do you see miracles yourself, in your own life? According to St. Thomas Aquinas a miracle in the strict sense is “something done outside the order of the entire created universe.” Certainly you could argue that a baby is not a miracle in the strict sense, but my daughter would disagree. She remembers the day we first saw her baby brother’s embryonic heart beating on the ultrasound machine (I remember her scream). Two babies died in miscarriage before him, two died after him. To us, this little boy is absolutely a gift outside the order of the universe.
Plus, there are those times when circumstances align in an order that simply defies coincidence. I remember the night my oldest son and I prayed at the Adoration Chapel, and came to a decision about a school for him to attend. We asked for a sign to know if it was the right choice. Outside we both saw a misty rainbow encircling the full moon. We nodded, we laughed, and he graduated from that parochial school six years later. Surely there was a physical explanation, but it was miraculous nonetheless.
People sometimes assume that miracles are less miraculous if they are rooted in the physical realm, but aren’t they all? God could have redeemed us in any way conceivable, but He chose for Christ to live the life of a baby, a boy, and then a man. Christ’s miracles were rooted in nature too; he used fish, bread, water, and mud.
Sometimes I miss miracles because I don’t pay attention to things right in front of me, things that remind me I am part of something greater. I look for them though. In fact, just as I was finishing this essay, the mailman brought a package to our door. Inside it was an unexpected gift from a friend, a small book entitled Miracles and Physics. Coincidence? Nope, a miracle, and let me tell you something — when you see things that way, life suddenly makes much more sense.