Sightless Faith

Scripture Reading

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.
(John 4:43-54)

Scripture Study

4:44 a prophet has no honor: A similar proverb is uttered when Jesus is rejected by his hometown of Nazareth (Lk 4:24). The remark resonates with bitter irony: although Jesus is a Jew (4:9), he is rejected by kinsmen from his own country of Judea (4:3, 47). See note on Jn 1:19.

4:46 Capernaum: This village was more than 15 miles from Cana. The official from the town was probably a royal officer under Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee. A similar episode where Jesus heals from a distance appears in Mt 8:5–13 and Lk 7:1–10.

4:47 Judea to Galilee: Geography plays a symbolic role in John. For the most part, the northern regions of Samaria and Galilee accept Jesus in faith (1:43–49; 2:11; 4:39, 53–54), whereas the southern region of Judea with its capital in Jerusalem is persistently antagonistic toward him (5:18; 7:1; 9:22; 10:33; 11:7–8, etc.). This tension between north and south is underscored by repeated emphasis on Jesus’ withdrawal from Judea to Galilee (4:3, 45, 46, 54) and elsewhere when the Judean opponents of Jesus make derogatory remarks about Galileans and Samaritans (7:52; 8:48). It is against this background that John classifies the enemies of Christ as “the Jews”, i.e., the unbelieving leaders of Judea and Jerusalem.

4:54 the second sign: Despite numerous signs performed in Jerusalem (2:23), this is only the second performed in Galilee (2:11).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today tells of Jesus healing a royal official’s son. The official asked him to heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” But the royal official persisted. And Jesus told him his son would live. The man believed Jesus and his son recovered.

Theologian Paul Tillich said that “faith” is the most misunderstood word in the religious vocabulary. And this is a tragedy, for faith stands at the very heart of the program; it is the sine qua non of the Christian thing. What is it? The opening line of Hebrews 11 has the right definition: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.”

Faith is a straining ahead toward those things that are, at best, dimly glimpsed. But notice, please, it is not a craven, hand-wringing, unsure business. It is “confident” and full of “conviction.” Think of the great figures of faith, from Abraham to John Paul II: they are anything but shaky, indefinite, questioning people. Like the royal official, they are clear, focused, assured.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.