1) Opening prayer
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.
2) Gospel Reading - John 4, 43-54.
When the two days were over Jesus left for Galilee. He himself had declared that a prophet is not honoured in his own home town. On his arrival the Galileans received him well, having seen all that he had done at Jerusalem during the festival which they too had attended.
He went again to Cana in Galilee, where he had changed the water into wine. And there was a royal official whose son was ill at Capernaum; hearing that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judaea, he went and asked him to come and cure his son, as he was at the point of death. Jesus said to him, 'Unless you see signs and portents you will not believe!' 'Sir,' answered the official, 'come down before my child dies.' 'Go home,' said Jesus, 'your son will live.' The man believed what Jesus had said and went on his way home; and while he was still on the way his servants met him with the news that his boy was alive. He asked them when the boy had begun to recover. They replied, 'The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.' The father realised that this was exactly the time when Jesus had said, 'Your son will live'; and he and all his household believed. This new sign, the second, Jesus performed on his return from Judaea to Galilee.
• Jesus had left Galilee, and directed himself toward Judah, in order to arrive to Jerusalem on the occasion of the festival (Jn 4, 45) and, passing through Samaria, he was returning again toward Galilee (Jn 4, 3-4). The observant Jews were forbidden to pass through Samaria, and they could not even speak with the Samaritans (Jn 4, 9). Jesus did not care about these norms which prevented friendship and dialogue. He remained several days in Samaria and many people were converted (Jn 4, 40). After that, he decided to return to Galilee.
• John 4, 43-46ª: The return toward Galilee. Even though Jesus knew that the people of Galilee had a certain reservation toward him, he wished to return to his own home town. Probably, John refers to how badly Jesus was received, accepted in Nazareth of Galilee. Jesus himself had declared that “No prophet is honoured in his own home town” (Lk 4, 24). But now, before the evidence of what he had done in Jerusalem, the Galileans change their opinion and received him well. Jesus then returns to Cana where he had worked the first “sign” (Jn 2,11).
• John 4, 46b-47: The petition of the court official. It is the case of a pagan. A short time before, in Samaria, Jesus had spoken with a Samaritan woman, an heretic person according to the Jews, to whom Jesus revealed his condition of Messiah (Jn 4, 26). And now, in Galilee, he receives a pagan, the official of the king, who was seeking help for his sick son. Jesus does not limit himself to help those of his race only, nor those of his own religion. He is ecumenical and receives all.
• John 4, 48: The answer of Jesus to the court official. The official wanted Jesus to go with him to his house to cure his son. Jesus answered: “Unless you see signs and portents you will not believe!” A harsh and strange answer. Why does Jesus answer in this way? What was wrong with the petition of the official? What did Jesus want to attain through this response? Jesus wants to teach how our faith should be. The official would believe only if Jesus went with him to his house. He wanted to see Jesus curing. In general, this is the attitude that we all have. We are not aware of the deficiency of our faith.
• John 4, 49-50: The official repeats his petition and Jesus repeats the response. In spite of the answer of Jesus, the man does not keep silence and repeats the same petition:. “Sir, come down before my child dies!” Jesus continues to keep his stand. He does not respond to the petition and does not go with the man to his house and repeats the same response, but formulated in a different way: “Go home! Your son will live!” Both in the first as well as in the second response, Jesus asks for faith, much faith. He asks that the official believes that his son has already been cured. And the true miracle takes place! Without seeing any sign, nor any portent, the man believes in Jesus’ word and returns home. It should not have been easy. This is the true miracle of faith; to believe without any other guarantee, except the Word of Jesus. The ideal is to believe in the word of Jesus, even without seeing (cf. Jn 20, 29).
• John 4, 51-53: The result of faith in the word of Jesus. When the man was on the way to his home, his servants saw him and ran to meet him to tell him that his son had been cured, that he was alive. He asked them when the boy had begun to recover and discovered that it was exactly the time when Jesus had said: “Your son will live!” He was confirmed in his faith.
• John 4, 54: A summary presented by John, the Evangelist. John ends by saying: “This new sign, the second, Jesus preformed”. John prefers to speak of sign and not of miracle. The word sign recalls something which I see with my eyes, but which only faith can make me discover its profound sense. Faith is like an X-Ray: it makes one discover that which the naked eye cannot see.
4) Personal questions
• How do you live your faith? Do you have faith in God’s word or do you only believe in miracles and in sensitive, perceptible experiences?
• Jesus accepts heretics and foreigners. And I, how do I relate with persons?
5) Concluding Prayer
Make music for Yahweh,
all you who are faithful to him,
praise his unforgettable holiness.
His anger lasts but a moment,
his favour through life;
In the evening come tears,
but with dawn cries of joy. (Ps 30,4-5)