March 16 – Faith and belief
After the two days he departed to Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 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.
So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Caper′na-um there was an official whose son was ill. 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. Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. 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.” 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. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
Jesus has traveled from Judea continuing to spread the Good News. He has returned to Cana where He encounters the Gentile official who came from Capernaum. This official begs Jesus to come and heal his son and believed that Jesus had to physically be present in order for his son to be healed. In the Old Testament, there were very few miracles where the prophet did not need to be present for the healing to occur. Jesus uses the words “signs and wonders” because the Gentiles would call on the magicians and witchcraft in order perform signs and wonders during their ‘healings.’ Many Gentiles knew who God was, but they viewed Him as one of many gods, and did not have saving faith in the God of Israel. Jesus was not telling the official that he would not heal his son; rather, he was challenging him to believe without both of them having to be there to witness the miracle in his home; go and believe. Jesus can perform miracles no matter where He is at or where we are at in proximity to the person we are praying for. After praying and going to the Eucharist, we too must go and believe that Jesus has heard our prayer, and the will of the Father will be done.
When we look specifically at the words of the official, his first request for the healing of his son seems cold and distant, with little or no faith involved. He heard of Jesus, knew of the miracles He’s performed, and believed He could heal his son, which was why he went to Him. The second time the official asks Jesus to come heal his son, he changes his tone. He goes from begging Him to heal his son to personalizing his plea to heal his child before he dies. It may not seem like a big difference, but when parents talk about their children they will use the words son or daughter to make a statement about them, “My son is sick.” When we change it to, “My child is so sick he might die,” it shows the love for their child, a softness and tenderness, that this is my child who needs help. This official is no longer a Gentile asking for a sign, he is a father begging for the Savior to come heal his son. When we are asking for a prayer to be answered, be sure to ask with sincere faith and love in Jesus, so that it is our faith is joined with Jesus’ power to heal the one we are asking for.
Because of this changed request, Jesus tells him to go back home and his son will live. This was a new challenge in itself because the official had to leave Jesus behind, go home and have faith that Jesus did as He said. As a Gentile, this would have been impossible to believe without seeing or needing to bring Jesus with him. Now becoming a follower of Jesus, and trusting His word, he obediently left and headed home. Jesus may not answer our prayers in the way that we would like Him to, yet when we have faith, we can go and believe Him at His word. Jesus doesn’t want to just perform miracles and answer prayers. He wants us to have living faith in Him first, that we believe in Him and trust His word. Because of the faith of the father, his child was healed and he and his household believed.
Lent in Action:
Go to Jesus in the Eucharist, pray for sincere healing of someone who you know needs it, and believe that Jesus will save them.
My Lord Jesus, thank you for challenges you provide for me to trust in you. Increase my faith and understanding in your ways. Help me to obediently go and follow your command. I ask this in your holy name. Amen.