Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 65:17ff. “Rejoice forever in what I am creating!” There are good things in store for those who love God.
John 4:43ff. In his second public miracle in Cana village, Jesus cures the son of a royal official.
An Outsider shows us how
Through Isaiah, God promises us “new heavens and a new earth.” We look forward to a vibrant life, even better than just the old-made-new… for it will be a new creation, a total transformation. Although in the next age we and everyone else will somehow be the same persons who lived on this old planet earth, God’s creative power will lead into a heavenly existence so marvelous that the things of the past shall not be remembered . . .No longer shall the sounds of weeping be heard there.
Jesus promised a similar vision to the royal official at Capernaum. His son was nearly dead when he begged Jesus to come down and restore the boy to health. And Jesus told him quite simply, ‘return home. Your son will live.’ This pagan official of Roman origin puts his trust in Jesus and starts for home, trusting that the boy whom he had last seen so ill will now meet him full of life!
Do we walk through life vibrating with hope and confidence like this pagan official? Do we believe that Jesus can, if he will, work miracles in our lives? Are we convinced that God lovingly cares for each person in our neighbourhood, whatever his religion or status? Is our heart rooted secure in faith, that whatever happens at the end of each journey, will really be for the best – no matter what? If we are distressed by the sickness and death that we meet in life, can we say in our heart: “God could have cured this person or could have arranged this business differently, but if he left it turn out this way, in his wisdom it is for the best. Yes, Lord, I believe.”
If all tears are not yet wiped away, the suffering and loss in life call for persevering love and courageous dedication, on our part who rally around for comfort and support. We believe, Lord, that you sorrow with the sorrowing. Even in this valley of tears you hold out to us a vision of new heavens and a new earth! We will live in this hope.
Jesus really can work miracles. The centurion believed in the promise, “Your son will live.” Anyone who passed this pagan Roman on his way home must have been startled by the hope in his eyes, the enthusiasm for life in his step. Do people who meet us perceive us as hopeful and optimistic? They should, if we truly look forward to “new heavens and a new earth.”
Faith like this does not destroy human initiative. If it did, the royal official never would have bothered coming to Jesus nor asked that his son continue to live, work, love and grow old. The gospel notes that this was the “second sign” given by Jesus. The Cana miracle of turning water into wine was the first sign (John 2:11). These are signs of new life and new joy, miraculously achieved, promises that the old things will be swept away and the past be remembered no more. They point to a new creation through and beyond death. Hear, O Lord, and have mercy, for you have changed my mourning into dancing.
First Reading: Isaiah 65:17-21
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
Gospel: John 4:43-54
When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honour in the prophet’s own country). 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.
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. 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. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 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.” 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. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.