“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.” (JN 4: 49-50)
I admire “the royal official” so much; I admire his love, his courage and his faith. He didn’t received what he asked for—“Sir, come down,” but, instead of persisting, He stayed obedient to God’s word: “the man believed … and left.” It happens, that when we ask for something—unconsciously—we connect our request with the way we would like to receive the answer. “Sir, come down” wasn’t important; “your son will live”—that was the real answer for the official’s request.
“Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the LORD will be with you.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” (1 SM 16: 7)
Only God knows us perfectly. He created us with love, saved us by means of His Son, and perfects us by the Holy Spirit. “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” When we feel misunderstood, alone or rejected, we can always come to Him and put our trust in Him. He knows how to help, He knows who we are, and He knows how to lead us to our destiny.
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” (LK 1: 38)
The beginning of our salvation started with Mary’s total and unconditional acceptance of God’s will—“may it be done to me according to your word.” Our Lady, who accepted the angel’s message, became the Mother of “the Word of God,” who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” She started with recognition and acceptance of her identity: “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” From this point we can also fulfill God’s plans for us.
“The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us; and we saw his glory.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots.” (HOS 14: 5-7)
We were created in God’s image and likeness. A free, creative and joyful gift of selves is a part of our heritage. This is His and our nature; this is a way we can grow and create long lasting relationships. Because God, who “loves us freely,” is always concerned with us, His beloved children, so His “wrath is turned away from us,” and He seeks to help us grow, starting with taking care of our betrayal: He “will heal our defection.”
“Repent, says the Lord; the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.” (JER 7: 28)
The most important factor of our growth is consistency. When we listen to His word daily, without excuses, slowly, but consistently, our relationship with Our Lord grows. His word penetrates our thoughts; from our thoughts it goes to our emotions and later reaches our actions, and we become His listeners and His followers. When “faithfulness has disappeared,” Our Lord is no more present in our words, and “the word itself is banished from our speech.”
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, for I am gracious and merciful.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” (DT 4: 9)
When we look at generations of our families’ genealogies, we can see the heritage of our fathers and grandfathers, who spread to us their love for God (or something opposite), and also see that we are now responsible for transmitting to the next generations—“to your children and to your children’s children”—our love for God. The more “our own eyes have seen,” the more we are close to Our Lord, the more our lives are based on His “words of everlasting life,” the more natural it will be for our children to follow His words.
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Do not take away your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, your beloved, Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one, To whom you promised to multiply their offspring like the stars of heaven, or the sand on the shore of the sea.” (DN 3: 35-36)
It was a very ancient practice, from the age of the “Fathers of the desert,” not to pray directly to God, but through the intercession of the fathers. They respected their role and their friendship with God—“for the sake of Abraham, your beloved, Issac your servant, and Israel your holy one.” When we pray with the intercession of our favorite saints (or our spiritual fathers), we not only invite them to support our prayers, but we also recognize the power of being in a very intimate relationship with God. They personally met Him “with their whole heart” and also learned how He “is gracious and merciful.”
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“’Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (MT 1: 20-21.24)
How close was Joseph to God; how much He was loved by Him. He responded to God with an open heart and took on an extremely important mission—to protect and to nourish God’s Son and His Mother. Everything was hidden from Him, but He trusted God’s will completely and whatever “the Lord had commanded him”, He did with joy. Now He takes care of the whole Church and we can entrust all our intentions to him.
“Blessed are those who dwell in your house, O Lord; they never cease to praise you.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” (JN 4: 42)
“We believe because of your word” says today’s Gospel, and I hope we will see in heaven how many people we inspired by our words and testimonies. Fides ex auditu (faith comes from hearing), says theology. “For we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the saviour of the world.” This is why He became the Word of God, why He spent 33 years teaching us, and why He is with us also in the Bible
“Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world; give me living water, that I may never thirst again.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins; You will show faithfulness to Jacob, and grace to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from days of old.” (MI 7: 18-20)
Our God is not interested in our sins—He “will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins”—because He created us not to avoid sins but to bring forth and multiply good. Again and again He “removes guilt and pardons sin” and “will again have compassion on us,” to equip us in every grace, so that we can grow. He waits for us and is never tired of saying how much He loves us.
“I will get up and go to my father and shall say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” (Gospel Acclamation)