(June 11)

But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all gave heed to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is that power of God which is called Great.’ And they gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8: 9-12)

The nation of Samaria was impressed with Simon, its local wonder-worker, until the Apostle Philip came from outside this “nation,” and opened its eyes to a better and broader vision; to the “good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” Then they were “baptized,” which literally means, “immersed,” in the baptismal waters that signify the death, burial, and resurrection of One immeasurably greater than either Simon or Philip. Somewhat later (if you read further in this chapter), they “received the Holy Spirit” by the laying of hands of Peter and John. All this gradually put an end to the local obsession with magic and with Simon, who himself eventually came to believe in Christ, although he initially mistook the work of the Apostles for another way of performing “miracles.”

I’m thinking about the difference between seeking “miracles” (in the literal sense of the word, which comes from the Latin verb mirari, meaning “to wonder at”) and believing in Christ. While our lives in Christ are not devoid of miracles, of our wonder and amazement at His life-bringing presence and work in our lives, faith takes work – from us. We are not just passive observers of someone else’s “performance” of this or that good or amazing work for us, be it God, a priest, an elder or an icon. In the short term a miracle might amaze us, but our amazement is meant to nudge us actively to respond to it in the long-term, by moving forward on our cross-carrying journeys with more faith, hope and love for God and our neighbors. Sorry this is probably obvious to anyone reading this, but I’m sharing it with you because I thought about it this morning, my dear readers.

It’s far more rewarding, in the long term, to work on my faith daily, than to be like a consumer in the Church, who comes for a “quick fix” to a certain problem or bad feeling, and then go about business as usual, without engaging or opening up to the presence of God in my life. That’s just a bit I wanted to share with you today.