Subtle Acts of Love are the Greatest Miracles
Fr. Hector Firoglanis
In the Gospel of Luke, after sending the 70 Apostles out to preach the Gospel, they returned saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Jesus answered them, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). In other words, the miracles are not what’s important, but the salvation of souls.
If you read the Book of Acts, the lives of St. George, St. Katherine, and other early Saints, you will see that God was working many amazing miracles during the first centuries of the Christian Faith. But more than these great miracles, it was the everyday actions of love and service by regular Christians that had the greatest impact on the growth of the Early Church.
Widespread and deadly epidemics during the second and third centuries serve as an example of Christian love bringing about miraculous transformations of early societies. While most in society were abandoning family members and loved ones afflicted with deadly and contagious diseases, the Christians made a name for themselves by caring for the sick – both Christian and Pagan. Masses of sick people nursed back to health converted to Christianity. Additionally, by working closely with the sick, many Christians developed immunity to the diseases and were considered by the Pagans to be super humans. In the end, it was the miracle of love and empathy that changed the hearts of those hostile to Christianity, and transformed entire societies.
In the 21st century, we suffer from a different type of epidemic: the epidemics of loneliness, division, fear, and violence, which require the same response of empathy and love from us Christians today. By doing some of the following things, we can perform subtle miracles that bear great fruit:
- We can begin by checking the list of homebound parishioners in the Annunciator, and give our shut-ins a phone call, a visit, a personal letter.
- Become a mentor (a father figure or a mother figure) to a young person who is growing up with an absent father or mother. We can do this by becoming a dedicated Sunday School teacher, a Camp Nazareth Counselor, a GOYA advisor, or volunteering at a local agency.
- Where there is despair and spiritual isolation, we can offer friendship, a word of encouragement, empathy, and spiritual and emotional support.
St Porphyrios describes this kind of love “not as an emotion that comes at no cost, but as participation in the pain and suffering of the other.” Love and empathy give us the miraculous power to overcome the epidemics of loneliness, anger, and despair that plague our modern societies today.
This is why our Lord Jesus Christ bypasses all the fantastic miracles that would be performed by the Saints throughout the ages, and says: “By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). For only love and empathy can generate the greatest miracle... to change a person’s heart for the better, and thereby truly effect change in the world, one soul at a time.