Isaiah 65:17-21 / John 4:43-54
Jesus saves a man’s son: The man trusted Jesus.
Years ago, there was a movie called Quo Vadis. Starring Deborah Kerr, it dealt with the persecution of Christians in ancient Rome. One day after a dangerous filming session, a reporter asked Deborah, “Weren’t you afraid when the lions rushed you in the arena?” Deborah replied, “Not at all! I’d read the script and I knew I’d be rescued.” This is the kind of childlike trust that the royal official had in Jesus’ promise: “Your son will live.”
What kind of trust do we put in the promises of Jesus—promises like “Ask and you will receive” and “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day”? Luke 11:9, John 6:54 “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the Singing bird will come.” Chinese proverb
It is often easier to talk about concepts and ideas rather than to talk about reality and experiences. This may sound strange but for those of us who are in the teaching and presentation business, we find it easier to talk about lofty and high-flown concepts and ideas. To talk about reality and the human experience would require some thinking and reflection in order to find the right expressions. In the gospel, Jesus seemed to be talking about the lofty ideas of faith and belief rather than to give the people the signs that they need. But the court official begged Him with these words: Come down, before my child dies. But that phrase "come down" was not to tell Jesus to stop talking up there in the air.
Rather it was an open invitation for Jesus to come and reinforce the faith that the court official had in Jesus. The court official too had to "come down" to the essentials of his faith and believe in Jesus, and to obey Jesus to go home and believe that his son will live.
Even the 1st reading of the promise of the new heavens and new earth are expressed in the human longing for joy and gladness.
The season of Lent is to help us to renew our faith in God. A renewed faith in the power of Jesus can bring about in a renewed faith in the wonderful and amazing things that God will do for us. A renewed faith combined with the powerful love of Jesus can indeed bring about forgiveness and healing, which is so much needed in our world.
Monday of 4th Week of Lent
FAITH IN THE FUTURE
For people who believe, the golden age lies in the future, not in the past, says the third section of the book of Isaiah. Before the exile, the Jews and their prophets looked to the beginnings, to the past, as the golden era from which humankind had declined. Now the prophet turns to the future. For the believer there is a new world to be built as a sign of the new heaven. Life lies in the future. The building up of this new world began seriously in Christ. His word renews people. Faith in him brings life and healing, something to live for and joy – now and even more so in the future: a new world, a new relationship with God, a new People of God.
-For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will, LHM
-At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing, CHM
-You changed my mourning into dancing; O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks, LHM
Lord our God, almighty Father, you want us not to turn to the past to regret it and to mourn over it but to hope in the future, in the new earth and the new heaven. Give us a firm faith in your Son Jesus Christ, that notwithstanding the shortcomings of our time we may have faith in the future, which you want us to build up with your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
With a very earthbound vision of end-time blessedness, Isaiah today sees a long life as a sign of divine favor. In Jesus’ time it was life itself that was cherished. In today’s Gospel it is the restoration to health of the royal official’s son. It becomes one of the “signs” in John’s “book of signs.” Before Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s Gospel, the question is posed to him, “Who is my neighbor?” The parable gives the answer. The Samaritan passes near the man who had been badly beaten and abused and immediately offers assistance. The question is answered. My neighbor is anyone in need. In today’s Gospel, Jesus proves himself to be a neighbor to a royal official. The story has a familiar ring; it may well be another version of Matthew’s centurion’s son (Matt 8:5-13) or Luke’s servant (Luke 7:1-10). As a royal official, the man is either not a Jew or a Jewish appointee of Roman authority. He is clearly not a believer but becomes one at the story’s conclusion. If we are selective in our charity, we may be on the track of loving others because they love us. But being willing to extend ourselves to anyone who needs us brings the Christian ideal to life. At one point, Francis of Assisi was incensed when three robber-beggars were hungry and were turned away by the friars because of their poor reputation. He gave the order for them to be found and fed. Years ago a priest pastor in New York’s lower Manhattan was well known for giving something to everyone who knocked on the door. A friend once chided him, saying that he had been taken advantage of more times than he probably realized. His reply was simple: “God is never going to ask me about that. But he will bring up the one person who was in need and was turned away.”
Points to Ponder
My response to the person in need The joy of doing good The agent of love: an instrument of peace
– Lord, speak only your word and we shall be healed, we pray:
– Lord, touch us with your grace and we shall become new and courageous people, we pray:
– Lord, give us yourself again, and you shall make us capable of giving ourselves to others, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, these are our gifts: no more than a little bread and wine, ordinary bread, a simple drink of joy, but they become among us the signs of a great future. Give us faith, Lord, a faith strong enough to believe with absolute certainty that everything becomes possible, that we can build up a new heaven and a new earth in and through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
Lord, God of our future, we believe in your Son Jesus Christ, who has been with us in this Eucharistic celebration. On account of him we are convinced that even death leads to life, that there are no barriers to what you can do with us, unreliable as we are at times, that all our dreams can come true beyond all our expectations in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Every year the Church gives us this Lent as an opportunity to become the kind of followers of Christ we were meant to be: courageous, close to God, thinking again of others rather than of ourselves and our own petty interests. Continue to let the Lord renew you, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.