The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Homily: Monday, 4th Week of Lent

Readings: Is 65:17-21; Ps 30; Jn 4:43-54

This past Saturday, immediately after morning Mass, we experienced a time of prayer and healing right here in our church.

My wife, Diane, and I made up one of the many prayer teams that were available to pray with those who entered this church that morning in need of God's healing presence in their lives and in the lives of those they love. I can't speak for the other teams, but I expect their experiences mirrored ours as we listened and prayed and shared God's overwhelming love, His forgiveness, His mercy.

Of course many of those who were here that morning were experiencing deep suffering in their lives - physically, emotionally, spiritually - and they came humbly seeking God's help. I'm always impressed by the extraordinary humility and faith of all who come to this healing service, driven by hope and willing to accept God's will. I'm impressed because their faith and humility are so much greater than my own, and it would be more fitting if the roles were reversed.

But there's something else. So many, despite their own suffering, come to us not just for themselves but for others. They come in prayer, in hope, in faith asking God to extend His healing presence to family, friends, neighbors, to those in need.

In today's Gospel passage we encounter another who comes to Jesus hoping for healing, not for himself but for his son. Probably an official of the court of Herod Antipas, he had traveled 20 miles from his home in Capernaum to find Jesus in Cana.
"You may go; your son will live."
As John tells us, the official approached Jesus and  "asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death." Did he assume that because he was an important official Jesus would simply drop everything and do as he asked and join him on the 20-mile trip to Capernaum? And did he think that Jesus had to make that trip in order to heal his son? If so he was in for a surprise, wasn't he?

Jesus actually seems a bit exasperated by it all, doesn't He? And He gives a rather sharp reply:

"Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe."
Was this rebuke directed solely at the official, or was it also aimed at the people of Galilee in general? Probably a little of both.

But the official accepts the rebuke. Humbled by Jesus' words, he doesn't allow himself to become discouraged. Moved by love for his son, he now pleads for help: "Sir, come down before my child dies."

Humility succeeds where arrogance had failed, and Jesus replies simply:
"You may go; your son will live."
Hearing these words, John tells us, the man now understands. He believed the Word of Jesus and departed on his journey home.

But he had to be moved to faith, didn't he? His hope for his son's healing led him to Jesus, but it was the Word that brought him the gift of faith.

It's interesting, though, that on the way home, he meets his servants who tell him his son lives. He has been healed. That should have been enough for him, but perfect faith is never easy, is it? And so he asks exactly when his son recovered. The answer, of course, confirms the truth and as John tells us, with that "he himself believed, and all his household."

Yes, sometimes God has to lead us to faith, one small step at a time, so we can request good things from God.

Our faith reminds us that Jesus is present here today just as He was 2,000 years ago in Galilee. And it is through His healing Presence in the Eucharist that we too share in the divine life.

Perhaps, like the court official in the Gospel, we should measure ourselves against Jesus' rebuke.

Do you and I need signs and wonders before we're willing to believe the Word of God?

Is our prayer filled with our own demands or do we turn to God in humility..."Thy Will be done..."?

Any child will be happy to tell you that we are surrounded by signs and wonders, all pointing to God's presence...just as he will tell you that God, like a loving parent, will take care of you.

God has showered us with His blessings, but so often we just don't seem to know it.

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