October 5, 2020
MIRACLES NEVER CEASE
Robert Wise explores the world of divine interventions from an objective point of view. An Archbishop in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Church with a Ph.D., Rev. Wise relates his interviews with persons who experienced divine interventions.
Now it’s Fall. So, here’s Fall Reruns!
MIRACLE IN A GARBAGE DUMP
Rick Thomas usually wore cowboy boots and a big Texan hat. Living in El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez, Mexico. And always colorful, he was known as an exceptional friend to the poor. When he died, Rick Thomas was buried in a homemade plywood coffin. A thousand people pressed into the church to say goodbye to a man who had lived love and spirituality. Father Rick Thomas, S.J. had been a Jesuit in the Roman Catholic Church.
Father Thomas still has insight for us about the world of divine interventions.
One of his significant places of ministry was the garbage dump for El Paso- Juarez. The sheer squalor of this sprawling pit of filth remains overwhelming. Poor Mexicans struggled to survive by living in the trash pit, having children here, and scratching out an existence in the midst of the debris. An untold number of the poverty-stricken live in cardboard shacks made from boxes tossed out in the trash. Fr. Rick regularly marched into the muck to hold religious services for them.
On the occasion of a visit to the United States, Sister Briege McKenna went with Fr. Rick to the dump. Sister McKenna was born in Ireland and entered the order of the Sisters of St. Clare where she became widely known for her ability to pray for the sick. With hesitancy, she walked into the worst squalor she had ever experienced. Sister Briege couldn’t see how any dignity of worshp could be manifest in such filth.
To her shock, nearly a thousand people had already gathered when they arrived. The contrast was staggering. These people literally had nothing. Setting up an old table for his altar, the priest went to work.
An old woman walked up, carrying a bundle in her arms. When she unfolded the cloth they saw a little child completely burned from head to foot. The dirty child was filthy and screaming. As she was crossing the mountains, the woman had found the child smoldering and picked him up. She handed him to Fr. Rick.
Sister Briege and Fr. Rick stared at the child that was nearly skinless. Finally, the priest suggested that they place the child under the table during the Communion Service. The service began and the congregation of the poverty stricken prayed with fervor. The Sister could feel the reality of the Holy Spirit descending across the mass of people.
Sister Briege began to weep and wondered if her faith might not be as strong as theirs.
As the Mass ended, they realized the baby had long since stopped crying. The child had crawled out from under the table. Sister Briege gasped! The little boy was happily playing in the sand – totally healed.
The Sister hurried over to the woman and ask, “What happened to him?”
The old woman looked at her with skepticism in her eyes. “What you mean what happened? Didn’t Jesus come?”
While the poor received the Mass, the child received new skin.