The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand….no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man” (Mark 3:22-24, 27).
The Pharisees had a hard time believing Jesus – a carpenter from Nazareth – could perform the healings and miracles they witnessed. We too can sometimes look at something as “too good to be true.” With so much evil in the world – wars, genocide, human trafficking, environmental destruction – it can be hard to think of anyone or anything being stronger than the “strong man” of sin that grips our world today. The “reality” of our lives leads to cynicism, “doom and gloom” predictions and loss of belief in miracles.
In our science-oriented, technological world, explanations and information are accessible in an instant via the Internet. With all the answers and explanations, it can be hard in modern times to believe in miracles anymore. But trying to “have it all figured out” gives us a false sense of being in control of the randomness of life. No matter how much we think we know or have figured out, there is much beyond our grasp.
The contemplative dimension of monastic life empties us of our certitude. We come to realize we are not in control, and we strive to get out of the way and let God be God in our lives. We learn that being persons of faith is not about providing answers to questions, but about learning to live with them.
This Year of Consecrated Life calls the Church to reflect on this in the face of declining numbers of consecrated religious. Do we trust that the Holy Spirit is with us in these “grey areas” of life as “the strong man” who is guiding us to “a future full of hope?” Or out of fear of change and the unknown, are we looking for reasons not to believe in what may be miracles forming and being birthed before our eyes?
“It has already been pointed out that the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all. If by mysticism we mean, not singular parapsychological phenomena, but a genuine experience of God emerging from the very heart of our existence, this statement is very true and its truth and importance will become increasingly clearer in the spirituality of the future.” (Karl Rahner, “The Spirituality of the Church of the Future” in Theological Investigations: Volume XX: Concern for the Church, 1981)
As winter passes into spring, we invite you to join us in noticing the miracles around us everywhere, everyday. Peace to you.
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.