|Go home: your son will live|
Today, we find Jesus again in Cana of Galilee, where He had previously made the well known miracle of changing the water into wine. Now, on this occasion, He performs a new miracle: the recovery of a royal official’s son. In spite of how spectacular the first one was, this second miracle is, undoubtedly, more valuable, for what Jesus solves with this miracle is nothing material, but a problem of a human life.
What is so remarkable in this case is that Jesus does not go to Capernaum to directly heal there the sick one; He performs the miracle without moving from Cana: «The official told him: ‘Sir, come down before my child dies!’. And Jesus replied: ‘Go, your son is living’» (Jn 4:49-50).
This should remind us all that we can do a lot of good from a distance, that is, without having to make us present wherever our generosity is requested. We can, thus, help the Third World simply by collaborating economically with our Missions or with catholic organizations that may be working over there. Or let us help those in need on the marginal suburbs of the big cities with our contributions to institutions like Caritas International, without our having to set foot there. Or, we can even make a lot of people far away happy by means of just a telephone call, a letter or an e-mail.
Quite often we do not perform a good deed by excusing ourselves because of our impossibility to be physically present wherever there is an urgent need for outside help. Jesus did not use that excuse. He was not at Capernaum, but He simply performed the miracle.
If you want to be generous, distance should be no problem, for our generosity comes all the way directly from our heart and it crosses all frontiers. As Saint Augustine said: «He who is charitable at heart, always finds something to give, notwithstanding obsticles presenting.
REFLECTION 2 (FROM ic daily relflectiins.com)
Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” John 4:48-50
Indeed the child does live and the royal official is overjoyed when he returns home to find that his child was healed. This healing took place at the same time that Jesus said he would be healed.
One interesting thing to note about this passage is the contrast of Jesus’ words. At first, it almost sounds as if Jesus is angry when He says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” But then He immediately heals the boy telling the man, “Your son will live.” Why this apparent contrast in Jesus’ words and action?
We should note that Jesus’ initial words are not so much a criticism; rather, they are simply words of truth. He is aware of the fact that many people lack faith, or are at least weak in faith. He is also aware of the fact that “signs and wonders” are beneficial for people at times so as to help them come to believe. Though this need to see “signs and wonders” is far from ideal, Jesus works with it. He uses this desire for a miracle as a way of offering faith.
What’s important to understand is that the ultimate goal of Jesus was not the physical healing, even though this was an act of great love; rather, His ultimate goal was to increase the faith of this father by offering him the gift of his son’s healing. This is important to understand because everything we experience in life from our Lord will have as its goal a deepening of our faith. Sometimes that takes on the form of “signs and wonders” while at other times it may be His sustaining presence in the midst of a trial without any visible sign or wonder. The goal we must strive for is faith by allowing whatever our Lord does in our lives to become the source of our faith’s increase.
Reflect, today, upon your own level of faith and trust. And work to discern the actions of God in your life so that those actions produce greater faith. Cling to Him, believe He loves you, know that He holds the answer you need and seek Him in all things. He will never let you down.
Lord, please increase my faith. Help me to see You acting in my life and to discover Your perfect love in all things. As I see You at work in my life, help me to know, with greater certainty, Your perfect love. Jesus, I trust in You.
Assistant Director, Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Teaching FellowsAs a teacher, it was easy to think that Jesus’ statement that “a prophet has no honor in his native place” was about me. As in: “a teacher might not be heeded today in class, but one day someone will appreciate the great things he has to say.”Lent is an ideal time for humble reflection, so I will admit I am not the prophet in the following story. In my first year of teaching down in Mobile, Alabama, I was far from my native place. While there, I encountered many prophets I did not properly appreciate at the time. One who stands out the most is Ms. B.
In our first parent-teacher conference, I explained to Ms. B everything I thought she didn’t understand about her sixth-grade son’s misbehavior in my class and about the math work he struggled to complete at home.
Ms. B explained that when her son was in elementary school, his third-grade teacher told him that he would become “another statistic” and never amount to anything. Through tears she told me about how she had had to sit her 8-year-old son down and explain to him that he was born with two strikes against him—he was black and male in America. She was grateful for my high expectations for her son. But her words demanded that I change my lens of understanding.
We can easily forget that God speaks to us through our neighbors, through the seemingly ordinary members of our community. It shouldn’t have been Ms. B’s job to teach me, but it certainly was my job to learn from her.
This Lent, let us honor the humble and under-appreciated prophets more native than us to the places we’ve had the privilege of calling home.
Today’s Gospel: John 4:43-54
“The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” Oh, the faith of these gospel characters. What gave this royal official so much confidence? Was it Jesus’ words? His facial expression? His tone of voice? This man had only the hearsay evidence of a few years of Christ’s ministry, and in a single meeting with Jesus his faith in the Lord is made absolutely unshakeable.
What must those hours have been like on the way back to his family? If it was me, I’d be second-guessing the entire affair. “Did he really mean it? Will my son be saved? Should I have stayed longer, or persuaded Him to come with me? What will my family say if I come back alone and my son has died?” Yet I have a sneaking suspicion that this faithful royal official tamped down those thoughts and clung to the memory of Christ’s words and the love that must have been readily apparent on Christ’s face.
I have two thousand years’ worth of evidence of Christ’s power. I have the testimony of countless saints. I have two millenia of Scripture scholarship and development of doctrine to fall back on. Not only that, I have the opportunity to receive the Lord of all creation into my own body, every day! And yet…I have trouble even believing that Christ is with me today, much less that He will answer my prayers. I need a good dose of the faith of this first-century man.