The crowd’s response at the end of the gospel today is one of my favorite in all of scripture, “We have never seen anything like this.” About 20 years ago, a mentor in my life noted that the unexpected is often a telltale sign of God’s handiwork in the world: God’s dreams bigger or more imaginative than my own. When we discover that “it wasn’t supposed to be like this” — as hard as that can be –we are precisely at the point where we recognize God is here, at work.
As I reflect on that wisdom 20 years later, I see how God has woven a narrative far richer than I would have dreamed possible, beyond the options apparent to me at the time. In both the simple, day-to-day: a third option discovered, an extended deadline, a snow day, a burst of afternoon sun in the dregs of January. And in the more lasting: a relationship consecrated, children adopted, a vocation discovered, enemies becoming friends, a paralytic healed, life from death. This truth St. Ignatius himself discovered: would he have ever imagined as he healed from battle wounds at his family’s home that his future lay not in soldiering but in spiritual conversation?
God today invites us to attune our limited sight to his, to trust that he sees far beyond what we do, and to hope as the four men who bring their paralytic friend to Jesus do: nothing is impossible with God.
—Matthew Couture is the assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Jesuits. Matt and his wife Bridget live in Chicago and have two children.