Of all the questions I get in the ministry, “Why aren’t there miracles anymore?” is one that has dumbfounded me for a long time. We read the Gospels and see Jesus enacting one miracle after another. A banquet of food is made from a lunch pail. Healings come one after another. People are raised from the dead. To be honest, I have not really had an adequate answer for the why-don’t-we-get-miracles-anymore question.

Not until Fred Rogers entered the zeitgeist (again).

I have been struck by revisiting his old shows and remembering how remarkable he felt to me as a child. He explained feelings that I did not have words for. He told me about death, divorce, and how change is a difficult thing. He understood the suffering and confusion of childhood in a way that few adults can translate. And I know I am one of millions of children for whom the Rev. Fred Rogers validated a gospel of Feelings Are Okay.

The moments that stayed with me, though, are the ones when he spoke about the truly difficult things. There is a famous episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood where he addresses the segregation of pools by inviting the Neighborhood’s local police officer (portrayed by black actor Francois Clemmons) to share a foot bath in a baby pool. There are not a lot of words. There is no real overt “teachable moment.” It was simply Mr. Rogers telling us how to love each other better and telling children that everything is going to be okay.

In 1993, following the LA Riots, Arsenio Hall would have Mr. Rogers on his show to talk about how scary the world looks for children and the comfort that adults can offer them. Hall ends the interview by saying that Mr. Rogers was the “perfect guest” for the show. In a time of tremendous turmoil and violence, Arsenio Hall turned to the man who (I would guess) had explained hard things to him as a child. He turned to the person who had offered compassion in the face of suffering.

So I do think we still have miracles. Maybe we do not witness as many physical healings as we see in the Gospels. Perhaps God knows that medicine does not need as many miracles as it used to. But, it feels like more than ever, the suffering of the human heart desperately needs unequivocal love.

That someone would care enough about children to understand their suffering and joy. That this same person would take the time to explain the world to its youngest members, as though they mattered most. That this would all happen on a profitless television show that any kid with rabbit ears could watch. It all feels like a miracle to me.

Recently, I was reminded of Mr. Rogers when I read a piece about a man named Janusz Korczak. Korczak, a pediatrician and author, is best known for the orphanage he created for Jewish children in pre-WWII Poland. He gave these little ones a hopeful home. They had their own newspaper and a system of government. Korczak gave them love and dignity. And just that would have been more than enough.

When Korczak was notified that the Nazis would be moving the orphanage to the Warsaw ghetto, he went with them. He was given numerous opportunities to leave but refused them all. He wanted the children’s lives to feel as normal as they possibly could. They preformed small theatre productions and played together there in the desolation and filth of their living conditions. Even there, he gave them comfort and hope. And just that would have been more than enough.

When the Nazis came to take all of the children (almost 200 boys and girls) to the extermination camp, Korczak was again offered the chance to leave. But he would not send the orphans alone to die. History tells us that he offered the children comforting visions about getting out of the urban ghetto and into the country. He told them to dress in their best clothes, and he boarded the train with them to die.

One eyewitness in the Warsaw ghetto observed the group and some years later remarked:

Janusz Korczak was marching, his head bent forward, holding the hand of a child, without a hat, a leather belt around his waist, and wearing high boots. A few nurses were followed by two hundred children, dressed in clean and meticulously cared for clothes, as they were being carried to the altar.

In the midst of death and destruction, there was compassion and comfort. Korczak was a miracle.

Certainly the miracles of Jesus have an undeniable gravitas. But oftentimes it is not the act that feels like the miracle, but the compassion. It is not just that he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead, it is the haunting tenderness of the moment. Jesus could have raised anyone from the dead. He could have chosen a more useful adult. He could have chosen a boy child.

The miracles of Jesus overwhelm us because by worldly standards, they are entirely unnecessary. Like a guy with a profoundly low tech public television show who longs to teach children they are beloved. Or a man who will die in the name of comforting orphans.

And this is precisely why Mr. Rogers and Janusz Korczak are miraculous. They looked at the forgotten ones and they decided to suffer with them. They looked at the ones who do not matter and decided to love those. They are miraculous because in this world of sin and self interest, these men look like Jesus.

Who will save us from this body of death? The one who came to be with us in the chaos and pain of this world. The one who chose to die with and for us. The Sufferer. The Compassionate. The Miracle.