Thursday, October 14, 2010

The parable of the miners and the butterfly

Two miners were in a vehicle deep underground when the mine began to collapse around them. First there was a huge boulder that fell behind their truck and blocked the route from which they had just come. Then as the ground shook beneath them, there appeared before them a white butterfly. The driver stopped the vehicle as he and his companion gazed in wonder at this apparition deep within the mine. They had never seen a butterfly at this depth before. As they were caught in rapture, the walls of the mine before them collapsed. If they had not stopped to see the butterfly, they would have surely been crushed in the huge pile of rock and dirt. They were immediately surrounded by a cloud of dust so thick that they could not see their own hand held before their eyes.

After the dust had settled, they were able to find their way to an emergency shelter. There, they gathered with other miners who had managed to escape with their lives from the frightening collapse. As they told their story to the other miners, they came to believe that the "white butterfly" they had seen just before they were plunged into darkness was a guardian angel sent to guide and protect them.

I can imagine Jesus telling this story as a parable to his disciples and then asking them, "Do you believe what the miners saw was an angel sent from God?" I then imagine the Apostle Thomas saying that since he was not there, he could not be sure. And then I imagine Jesus turning to Peter and saying to him, "And you Peter, what do you believe?" And Peter replying, "Lord, I believe that with God all things are possible."


You can read for yourself the CNN account of the miracle of the butterfly in the San José mine in Chile. And then it is up to you to decide: Is this a story of "superstition" or faith?

As Jesus told Nathanael, "You will see greater things than this." But when you see them will you have the faith to believe?
Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him." Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

- John 1:45-51
Jesus told his disciples the parable of the persistent widow and then he asked them, "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Have we all become like the cynical judge, "who neither feared God nor respected any human being"?
Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'

For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"

The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

- Luke 18:1-8


  1. I added the parable of the persistent widow to this article. I focus on the role of the dishonest judge. His cynicism reflects that of our modern world. It's odd that Jesus compares this cynical character with God. But he does this in order to give us a glimpse of God's mercy. He suggests that His Father's mercy is greater than anything we could ever imagine.

    We are as sheep compared to God. How could we ever hope to comprehend the true nature of the Creator? And yet Jesus promises us that through prayer and faith we can come closer to our Heavenly Father.

  2. I did not know about this miracle, but now I posted it on my facebook!. I am so happy for the miners, and definitely, their rescuing as well as the whole miracle is very very tightly related to our Blessed Virgin Mary and our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Hosanna in the highest!