If you were present for the raising of Lazarus from the dead, would you have any doubt that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?
Miracles are always extraordinary, but the raising of Lazarus from the dead went well beyond extraordinary.
When Christ first received word that Lazarus was ill, He did nothing for two days. That seems rather bizarre, except that Christ was planning a spectacular miracle. He didn’t want to heal a sick man or raise from the dead someone who had died only a short time before. He wanted someone who was really dead. He got what he wanted.
When Christ finally arrived at Bethany, He asked for the removal of the stone laying across the cave where Lazarus was buried. Martha, the sister of the dead man, responded, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Christ insisted the stone be taken away and ordered Lazarus, who was “tied hand and foot with burial bands,” to come out, and the dead man did come out and his hands were untied pursuant to Christ’s order.
This was indeed an impressive miracle. The crowd was impressed, and so were the Pharisees, who from that day on planned to kill Jesus. To squelch such a miracle, it wasn’t necessary just to kill Jesus, “the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too.”
It’s hard to top a miracle of that magnitude, but Christ did. Several days later, on Holy Thursday, He gave us the Eucharist, the gift of his body and blood. This is the second greatest miracle. A wonderful thing about the Eucharist is that it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Every time a priest offers Mass and consecrates the bread and wine, these two substances turn into the body and blood of Christ, which we can receive every day if we only take advantage of the opportunity.
On Good Friday Christ was crucified and three days later performed the greatest miracle of all when He did something no man had ever done before…He overcame death.
I truly believe Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. I also believe Christ gave us His body and blood in the Eucharist and that when a priest consecrates the bread and wine this becomes the body and blood of Christ. And finally, I believe Christ did rise from the dead.
While I believe these three things did occur (and in the case of the consecration by the priest still do occur), until recently I accepted this on faith alone. Today, however, scientists can prove in a court of law that on a number of occasions the consecrated bread and wine have become human flesh and blood. They can also prove that these changes into human flesh and blood – commonly referred to as Eucharistic miracles -- have occurred in the Eighth, 20th and 21st centuries.
Let’s look at these Eucharistic miracles for a moment.
Around the year 750 a priest was offering Mass in a small Italian town by the name of Lanciano, and in the course of consecrating the bread and wine had doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. At that point the host turned into flesh and the wine into blood. This flesh and blood has been venerated by Catholic faithful for almost 1270 years and today can still be found at the site where the miracle took place. The flesh and blood have undergone a number of scientific tests, most recently in 1970-71, when two noted scientists concluded that the specimen that appeared to be flesh was indeed flesh, and in fact was heart muscle.
What appeared to be blood was indeed blood. No doubt about it. The blood type was AB, the same as the person who wore the Shroud of Turin. Even more amazing is that the blood had formed into five clots of unequal size. Each clot was found to weigh 15.85 grams and all five clots taken together weighed 15.85 grams.
In 1996 in a church in Buenos Aires, Argentina, an abandoned communion host was found. Someone had apparently received the Eucharist and for whatever reason tossed it aside. As is the practice in those cases, the host was taken by the priest and placed in a dish of water, where it was assumed it would dissolve and then be properly disposed of. This host did not dissolve. Instead it slowly changed into what appeared to be blood and flesh.
Under the auspices of the archbishop, that host was examined by noted scientists who did not know the source of what they were checking. They all concluded this was human heart muscle and human blood. A famous New York pathologist concluded that the heart muscle came from an individual who had suffered excruciating pain, possibly undergoing a severe beating about the chest. The archbishop who authorized the exam is known to us today as Pope Francis. The scientist Pope Francis chose to lead the test at one time was a strong atheist, but is now staunch in his Catholic faith. Twelve years later a situation quite similar to that of Bueno Aires occurred in Poland. Two distinguished Polish scientists concluded the bread had turned into heart muscle and wine had turned into blood, once again type AB.
Christ took many opportunities in his public life to perform miracles that helped people understand His divinity and made them want to become His disciples. After the stone was rolled away from the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe you sent Me.”
Faith has been an issue for many since the foundation of the church. St. Thomas is our poster boy for people with faith issues. The priest who consecrated the host at Lanciano almost 1,300 years ago had doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Today there are millions of fallen-away Catholics. There are also millions of Catholics who go to Mass and confession irregularly, and when they do attend Mass, are not attentive. Do these millions of people believe in God and do they believe in the real presence?
Christ has always wanted us to believe in Him. With the evidence from these eucharistic miracles, isn’t Christ making it easier for all of us to believe?
We are urged to spread the good news. Does the news get any better than this? Christ has been with us for 20 centuries and is still with us and is physically present in Catholic churches around the world, waiting for us to accept him into our hearts.
Much of what I have written about here appears in two books and three videos produced by Australian Ron Tesoriero. If you find this relevant – and I certainly hope you do – go to the website of St. George Church, Linn, Mo., and look for Eucharistic Miracles presentations coming up on March 10 and 11. The presenter will be Tim Francis, a man I have seen in person four times. Because of Covid, the presentations will be virtual. I am a technological klutz, but hopefully I can find someone to help me get hooked up for the presentations.