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Jesus went from Sychar in Samaria 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.
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him …
We live in dangerous time. Every week we hear of people, and not always vulnerable people, being cheated out of their savings and pension funds. Those who carry out these cruel deceptions are very convincing, or so we are told. Such ruthless criminals have mastered the art of deception to such an extent that their ‘respectability’ seems beyond question. It is on this basis that they strike, destroying the lives of their victims.
One of the issues that makes such crimes possible is rooted in the greed of many of those who they target. They seek a level of gain that appears to be balanced between the unbelievable and the just about achievable. Those who will become victims convince themselves, or allow themselves to be convinced, of their shrewdness and wisdom whilst, in reality, setting both of those qualities to one side, replacing them with gullibility and greed.
In today’s reading we see a royal official demonstrating what many around him would have described as gullibility and greed. His son was mortally ill, and Jesus was in town. The official had heard accounts of Jesus, the miracle working healer. He would also have heard the scepticism of those who had seen Jesus grow up. But, the official was desperate; he was ready to risk anything and everything to achieve his impossible goal, the rich reward of his son’s health.
The royal official approached Jesus and begged for help. Jesus did not seek him out and offer a deceptive hope. Jesus waited for the royal official to come to him. Then, when the approach was made, Jesus warned us all against relying on signs and wonders. The criminals I spoke of earlier provide signs and wonders that are nothing more than worldly deception. Jesus is leading us another way. Jesus is speaking of faith.
Jesus answers the prayers of the desperate father, but quietly and without pomp and ceremony. Jesus recognizes and rewards the faith of the royal official by simply saying: Go, your son will live. Then we read these powerful words: The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.
Jesus tells us that the tiniest amount of genuine faith can move mountains. Let us pray for a mustard seed’s worth of that faith. Let us pray for the strength to set aside human gullibility and greed and take our needs, our hopes and our dreams to Jesus, the only one who can work the miracles we would like to see, the miracles that can be truly life-changing.