Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gospel for Monday, 4th Week of Lent

John 4:43-54

[43] After two days Jesus departed to Galilee. [44] For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. [45] So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him, having seen all that He had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast.

The Cure of the Royal Official's Son
[46] So He came again to Cana in Galilee, where He had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. [47]When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. [48] Jesus therefore said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." [49] The official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." [50] Jesus said to him, "Go, your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. [51] As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. [52] So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." [53] The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live"; and he himself believed, and all his household. [54] This was now the second sign that Jesus did when He had come from Judea to Galilee.

46. St. John is speaking about a royal official, probably in the service of Herod Antipas who, although he was only tetrarch or governor of Galilee (cf. Luke 3:1), was also referred to as king (cf. Mark6:14). The official, therefore, would have been someone of high rank(verse 51), who lived in Capernaum, a town with a customs post. This is why St. Jerome thought he must have been a "palatinus", a palace courtier, as the corresponding Greek word implies.

48. Jesus seems to be addressing not so much the official as the people of Galilee who flock to Him to get Him to perform miracles and work wonders. On another occasion our Lord reproaches the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for their disbelief (Matthew11:21-23), because the miracles He worked there would have been enough to move the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, and even Sodom itself, to do penance. The Galileans in general were more inclined to watch Him perform miracles than listen to His preaching. Later on, after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, they will look for Jesus to make Him king--but they are slower to believe when He tells them about the Eucharist (John 6:15, 53, 62). Jesus asks people to have a strong, committed faith which, though it may draw support from miracles, does not require them. Be that as it may, in all ages God continues to work miracles, which help bolster our faith.

"I'm not one for miracles. I have told you that in the Holy Gospel I can find more than enough to confirm my faith.--But I can't help pitying those Christians--pious people, `apostles' many of them--who

smile at the idea of extraordinary ways, of supernatural events. I feel the urge to tell them: Yes, this is still the age of miracles: we too would work them if we had faith!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 583).

49-50. In spite of Jesus' apparent coldness, the official keeps trying: "Sir, come down before my child dies". Although His faith is imperfect, it did bring him to travel the thirty-three kilometers(twenty miles) between Capernaum and Cana, and despite his important position here he was, begging our Lord for help. Jesus likes the man’s perseverance and humility; he rewards his faith: "`Si habueritis fidem,sicut granum sinapis! If your faith were the size of a mustard seed!...' What promises are contained in this exclamation of the Master!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 585).

The Fathers compare this miracle with that of the centurion's servant, contrasting the amazing faith of the centurion--from the start--with the initially imperfect faith of this official from Capernaum. St.John Chrysostom comments: "Here was a robust faith [in the case of this official]; therefore, Jesus made him the promise, so that we might learn from this man's devotion; his faith was as yet imperfect, and he did not clearly realize that Jesus could effect the cure at a distance; thus, the Lord, by not agreeing to go down to the man's house, wished us to learn the need to have faith" ("Hom. on St. John", 35).

53. The miracle is so convincing that this man and all his family become believers. All parents should do what they can to bring their household to the faith. As St. Paul says, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). Cf. Acts16:14, where we are told that Lydia brought her whole household along with her to be baptized; Acts 18:8 mentions Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue doing the same thing, as does the prison warden (Acts16:33).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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