Intention: For all of our educators and health care professionals who are working to respond to the challenges of COVID, that God will continue to strengthen them and that their efforts will find lasting success.
Today’s Gospel | John 4:43-54
At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast.
Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, “The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.” The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea.
A Lenten Reflection
The readings of Lent offer many accounts from the life of Jesus that contain lessons on the meaning of salvation. Occasionally, there are stories that contain several lessons, and it is the least obvious one that sometimes makes the most powerful point. Today’s Gospel is an example. In the story of the royal official who asked Jesus to heal his son, many readers focus either on Jesus’ brusque exchange with the official or on the healing itself. What is often lost in the narrative is the significance of the official’s act of approaching Jesus in the first place.
During Jesus’ time, someone referred to as “a royal official” would most likely have been a member of the king’s court. In this case, he would have been from the court of King Herod Antipas, hardly a group that looked favorably upon either Jesus or his ministry. For one of its members to risk ridicule or possibly worse by publicly approaching Jesus and begging for a miracle could only mean that the official had chosen a radical path. For whatever reason, he dismissed the close-mindedness of his contemporaries and chose to hope that God was indeed there for him in this ordinary day laborer turned preacher. This choice would save his son, serving as an example of what it looks like to break away from sinfulness and welcome God’s salvation into one’s life.
As we take time during this Lent to reflect on our need for God, we, like the royal official, might realize that God is not bound by social expectations of him. God is with us in his own way and his own time, surprising us every day with his grace. It takes an open and humble heart to accept this. “Above all else,” wrote theologian Meister Eckart, “know this: Be prepared at all times for the gifts of God and be ready always for new ones. For God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive.”
Eternal Father, your Son came that we might have life and have it in all of its fullness. During this holy time of Lent, strengthen our faith and hope so that we may know how to accept his gift of salvation. May we do with open hearts whatever you ask of us and come to share in the life that you promise. Be our light now and always. Free us from sin, through our care and vigilance for those that you have entrusted to us, may we be faithful builders of your Kingdom. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.