Word or works? Monday, 4th week in Lent – Isaiah 65:17-21/ John4:43-54

By way of Introduction

Laetare Sunday which we celebrated yesterday ushered in the hope of the season of Easter to come. It is for this reason that the vestment at mass were rose or violet and not purple (that’s if the sacristan was instructed by the priest). In any case, it ushered in a joy that has clearly spilt into the first reading of today in which God promises a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ and the city of Jerusalem will be know as ‘joy’ while her people will be known as ‘gladness.’

Also, for the next two weeks, till we being the Holy Week, the Gospel that will be proclaimed at mass will be taken from the Gospel of John. We begin with John 4:43 today and over the next two weeks we will cover several texts up to John 11:56

By way of explanation

The Gospel of today is a wonderful reflection of the joy that is ours, if we believe. In the Gospel of John, the word ‘believe’ is found 98 times and is indicative of the faith that we are called to have in Christ’s word over the works of his hand.

Looking around today, we see a rejection of faith in God. Christ faced that disbelief in real time from those who were his own. Belief is not a prize you receive as a virtue of your baptism it is a gift you claim each day as you renew your discipleship in prayer.

Jesus has just left Samaria in the preceding text of today’s Gospel. An entire village of Samaritans believed in him because of the woman’s testimony and mind you she had little social standing among her people (John 4:39) but ‘MANY more believed because of his word’ which he shared with them over just two days (4:41). It is interesting to know that Jesus did not turn water into wine or any of the many spectacular works that he performed in his hometown of Galilee and yet they believed.

 Christ testified that “a prophet has no honour in his own country” (4:44) and though he was ‘welcomed’ in Galilee it was because they had ‘seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival.’(4:45) They were enamoured by his works not his words! Could the same be said of us today?

Contrast his own people to an official from the ‘royal household’ (verse 46) who comes to plead for his son’s life. Christ, we are told, is in Canna and the official has made a fifteen-mile journey to ask for a healing for one who was at the point of death. Jesus uses the occasion to make a point! This generation wants signs and wonders.  (And I am WONDERING if that generation is ours?)

We come to Christ with our prayers that range from simple petitions to those dripping in perspiration. If it is how words we seek and not his works then accept what Christ said to the official of the royal household, “Go, your son will live.” “Go, you situation is taken care of.” Would we go? Would the faith of the royal official resonate in our faith story when written or recounted? Can we claim that we “believed in his word and started on our way?”

If you answer yes, then where is the testimony? Are the details so vivid that you remember your lunch time miracle? Has your household been converted? The scriptures tell us that Christ worked this miracle at one in the afternoon and the official remembered it. We have all had our lunch time miracles, but we rarely memorialize them?

The season of Lent now takes a twist… watch this space….

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