By Elizabeth Baumann
A Reading from the Gospel of John 4:43-54
43 When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee 44 (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honour in the prophet’s own country). 45 When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.
46 Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. 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 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. 51 As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” 53 The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. 54 Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.
So often Jesus says to people that their own faith has made them well — they believed before they got “proof.” Conversely, we also see lots of examples of those — like the Pharisees — who witness dozens of Jesus’ miracles but refuse to believe. No proof is ever enough for them. But what about those of us who find ourselves in between? How do you approach Jesus with your great need — perhaps desperate enough to try anything, perhaps not quite believing already, but hoping? For a lot of us, faith isn’t the problem so much as trust. We know Jesus can do it, but will he? After all, Jesus doesn’t heal or spare from suffering all of those who believe — otherwise there would be no martyrs.
In today’s lesson we see someone from the in-between. Jesus accuses him of only believing if he gets proof, but this father is desperate, he begs Jesus to come anyway. Perhaps desperation, aimed at Jesus, is its own kind of faith being expressed. We are told that Jesus said his son would be all right, and the man went his way. I imagine he had only a glimmer of hope that Jesus spoke the truth, a glimmer drowned in fear of what he would find when he got home.
And when he found that his son began to get well the moment Jesus spoke? There’s only one reason for Jesus to do it that way. He could have healed the boy earlier or later, with or without his father’s asking. The only reason to do it at this very moment was to give this father the gift of faith. It’s always worth remembering that faith comes from God as his gift to us, and is never something we come up with ourselves anyway. As St. Thérèse said, “All is grace.”
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Kafanchan – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast