Historical setting: 562 C.E. Gaul
George is determined to beat the life from Christianity and sanctify the deaths as he foists upon me the necessity for rotting saints. “I can assure you Heretic Lazarus, St. Lazarus was a true martyr for Christ.”
I rebut. “They only died because the emperor of Persia feared Rome.”
“Your mistake, my friend in err, is in ignoring the sacrifice. The cause of veneration of saints is not of earth but of miracles. Consider the wonders in such things as the dust you claim to own. The very life energy of the suffering martyr is present within that walnut casket. The power is in everything the saint touches so even the mere hem of a saint’s garment can bring a great miracle.”
He mentions the touching of a garment’s hem and I recall the Jesus story of such a healing. But in the Jesus story the spiritual energy in that moment was not some magic that can be mined from a corpse as it rots. It is the energy of love and life itself. [Luke 8:46] And surely it is not a tangible substance or a commodity to be swept up after a beard shave or a burning. That same energy I claim as Holy Spirit moved among the crowds when Peter preached on Pentecost. [Acts 2] No relic was needed; it can move like a breath of life among people. It is always with us, and moves away from death toward life and away from fear toward love.
He badgers me on, “Ask your saint to show you a miracle with your relic. Hold it up in the face of danger and pray to your saint.”
His instruction seems as meaningless as an empty shell. But that moving Spirit, breath of life, has for me, a voice of empathy for his plea so I hold my walnut of whiskers up.
“Now doesn’t the dust of that suffering bring a great and holy miracle?”
I see behind my elevated walnut the anxious face of a youth wishing upon me a moment of miracle. I see in his gaze at my relic his inheritance of an ancient, innocent faith rooted only in the material things of earth. It is no wonder God’s loving Spirit demands my empathy and openness, not an ah-ha of righteous win. He sees the wonder in my face as I see the anticipation in his and we are both awed by God’s beauty as we see it in the other.
“So you have seen the power of the miracle now.”
Dear God, how can I win this when you only fit me with empathy? Amen.