March 11, 2013
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 honor 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Reading the Signs
A red hexagon with a white border, even without letters, signals to us that we need to stop and look before proceeding. In his Gospel, John always uses the word “sign” because of what the story reveals about who Jesus is—and therefore who God is—and not just what he does. The similarity to the miracle at Cana is striking: Jesus’ mother makes a request that he initially disdains; and the royal official makes a request that Jesus dismisses. Neither petitioner gives up, and ultimately Jesus gives them what they ask for, which is to solve the immediate problem. However, they ultimately get more than they asked for, which is what takes the event from a miracle and makes it a sign.
If we look superficially, the signs could reveal Jesus to be just a clever wonder-worker or magician. Water turned into wine, a seriously sick boy brought back to health, or feeding 5,000 people with just a few loaves of bread are impressive. But if the sign is to direct us beyond the immediacy of being amazed, we have to look at them as telling us who God is and not just what God does. The wine at Cana signifies God’s abundant wish for our happiness, the cure of the official’s son indicates God values our lives and love for one another. Just as Jesus is both God and man, the signs he performs are immediately wondrous and transcendentally meaningful. Today’s reading is an invitation to the whole Church to go deeper into Lent and deeper into the mystery of what Jesus is showing us God is like. Let us keep our eyes open for these signs.
—Fr. James Prehn, S.J., Vocations Director for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.
Prayer for Generosity
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek reward, except that of knowing that I do your will.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola, click here for the prayer card
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