This article may get me into trouble, because it involves a Roman Catholic and praying the Rosary. Now, I don’t agree with praying to Mary because there is only one mediator between God and man – Jesus, but I do believe anyone who prays in faith to Jesus or God, including Catholics, can have their prayer answered.
With that as my disclaimer, I want to share a recent story written by Steve Doocy, a practising Catholic, who works for Fox News.
In the 1990s, Doocy was attending a Catholic Church in Washington, DC when he was invited by the local priest, Father Fasano, to listen to man from Medjugorje, Bosnia who claimed to have had a vision of Mary.
When Doocy arrived, they had arranged about 20 chairs in a circle in Father Fasano’s living room and Doocy recalled getting what was the last open chair, closest to the door.
The man shared his vision and at the end of the meeting, they decided to wrap it up by praying the Rosary. But there was a twist, everyone in the circle was expected to individually pray based on a series of prayers known as The Glorious Mysteries.
This meant that as the last man in the circle, sitting nearest the door, Steve would lead the final prayer based on this series.
As a man who inhabited the last row of the church, Doocy was absolutely terrified. He had never prayed the Rosary much less The Glorious Mystery one.
As he watched the prayers slowly wind their way down to him, in desperation Doocy prayed:
God up there in heaven, please help me.
Then at the very moment the person at his side sat down after praying the doorbell rang. As the person nearest the door, Doocy jumped up to answer and to his amazement the most famous Catholic in America, former US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was at the door.
Doocy immediately offered Justice Scalia the lone empty chair while explaining that they were wrapping up the Rosary.
Doocy told Scalia it was his turn and without hesitation, Scalia perfectly prayed his section.
As he was driving home, Doocy wondered if Scalia’s arrival at the very moment he did was an answer to prayer and remembered the words a priest once told him, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
So, does God use coincidences?
The word coincidence is found only once in the Bible in Luke 10:31, when Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, Jesus said that a man had been set upon by robber and left by the road by badly injured and “by coincidence or by chance, as several translations read, a priest walked by.”
And by coincidence, several others walked by including the Good Samaritan who helped the injured man.
The word coincidence is the Greek word synkyrian which is a compound word that literally means “together with supreme authority.” It suggests that what people look upon as a coincidence or chance may be evidence of God working behind the scenes.
There may even be an example of such a coincidence in Acts 8:26-40. In the account, we read how an Ethiopian Eunuch was sitting in his chariot reading from the Book of Isaiah about how the Messiah would be led to slaughter (Isaiah 53:7-8).
Though the actual term wasn’t used, by coincidence Philip, the evangelist, happened to be passing by and explained to the Eunuch that these verses were referring to Jesus.
The Eunuch was saved and water baptized and tradition tells us as a member of Ethiopia’s royal court he had a profound impact on taking the gospel to that country.
Now this would have struck the Eunuch as a coincidence, that at the very moment he was reading these verses, someone happened along who could explain it to him.
But when we read what happened earlier in the story, we see that as Philip was heading out of town to Damascus, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and specifically told him to take “the desert road” (Acts 8:26). The very road where the Ethiopian Eunuch was sitting reading the Bible in his carriage.
In other words, God initiated this divine coincidence. Sometimes coincidences are just that coincidences, but sometimes they are God’s divine appointment intended to catch our attention reminding us that He hears and cares.