Monday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Posté par diaconos le 15 mars 2021

Monday of the Fourth Week in Lent dans Carême 26207

# Many healings are recorded in the New Testament. Most of them refer to Jesus’ care of our souls to cleanse them from our sins. The Healing of an Officer’s Son brings some additional clarity to this concept. The Jerusalem Bible translation speaks of a royal official. Before the crucifixion of Jesus, which took place while Pontius Pilate was prefect of Judea, there was no king in Galilee, Judea or the surrounding territories.

It was only after Pontius Pilate’s dismissal (late 36 – early 37) that Caligula released Agrippa I from prison and appointed him king of Battania. The territories entrusted to Agrippa bordered Galilee and were on the other side of the Jordan. Herod the Great’s sons (Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Philip the Tetrarch) never obtained the title of king. Gregory the Great’s homily 28 was dedicated to this miracle. The Pope compared this healing to that of the centurion (Mt 8, 6-7). The speaker punctuated his speech by pointing out that Jesus did not move there. Gregory the Great quoted Psalm 116, verse 6 : « The Lord guards the grandchildren. « Humility must be the order of the day.


From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John

At that time, after spending two days with the Samaritans, Jesus left there for Galilee. – He himself had testified that a prophet is not regarded in his own country. So he came to Galilee, and the Galileans welcomed him, for they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover feast, for they had also been to that feast.

So Jesus returned to Cana of Galilee, where he had turned water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was sick in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was coming from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down to Capernaum to heal his son who was dying.

Jesus said to him, « If you do not see signs and wonders, you will not believe ! « The royal official said to him, « Lord, come down before my child dies ! « Jesus replied, « Go, your son lives. »

The man believed the word Jesus had spoken to him and went down. As he was going downstairs, his servants came to meet him and told him that his child was alive. He wanted to know what time he was better. They told him, « It was yesterday, at the seventh hour (early afternoon), that the fever left him.

The father realised that this was the very hour when Jesus had said to him, « Your son is alive. So he believed, and so did all the people in his house. This was the second sign Jesus performed when he returned from Judea to Galilee. » (Jn 4, 43-54)

Jesus heals the son of the royal officer

 John tells of Jesus’ return to Galilee and motivates this return by recalling a proverb that Jesus had quoted and which appeared as a reason against his return to Galilee. Then he reported, as a consequence of this saying, that Jesus was well received by the Galileans.

What is the homeland of Jesus mentioned in this proverb ? Many answered : Galilee. Jesus went there because he knew that he would not be successful, but he sought either to fight (Weiss) or to retreat (Luthardt, Holtzmann, Schlatter).

Meyer thought that Jesus, knowing that as a prophet he would not at first be honoured in Galilee, his homeland, had begun by seeking this honour outside, in Jerusalem, in Judea. His calculation did not deceive him: he was then well received by the Galileans, because they had seen his miracles in Jerusalem.

This very admissible explanation was adopted, with some modifications, by Astié, Reuss, M. Godet. Others, from Origen to Baur, Ebrard and Keil, believed that, in John’s mind, the homeland of Jesus was Judea, where he was born, and that, not having been honoured there, he returned to Galilee.

It is even on this fact that a great number of interpreters based themselves to propose a fourth explanation. By Galilee, to which Jesus returned, they meant that province as a whole, excluding Nazareth, where Jesus did not want to go. Although Jesus was commonly called a Galilean, nowhere in the New Testament does it give him this province as his homeland, but constantly Nazareth. Nathanael replied :  « Can anything good come out of Nazareth ?’ » Philip replied : « Come and see. «  (Jn 19, 19)

John explained the reception Jesus received from the Galileans by recalling that they had witnessed all the things he did in Jerusalem during the feast, which they themselves had attended. They were struck by the authority he displayed in cleansing the temple, as well as by the miracles he performed : « While he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name at the signs he performed » (Jn 2, 23).

These were external manifestations that could prepare souls for faith, but they were insufficient to create it in them. Jesus, encouraged by this good reception, wanted to continue his journey to Galilee, as far as Cana, where his previous stay could have prepared people to receive his word. This is what the evangelist wants to make clear by recalling that it was there that he had changed water into wine (John 2, 1ff.)

A royal officer can refer to any official, civil or military. Here we are talking about a servant of Herod Antipas, who ruled over Galilee and was given the title of king, although he officially bore only that of tetrarch. The confidence of this man, who was not yet a disciple of Jesus, can be explained either by the miracle at Cana, of which he was aware, or by the knowledge he too had of all that Jesus did in Jerusalem.

But this confidence is best explained by the anguish in his father’s heart. He asked Jesus to come down because Cana was in the mountains. They all looked for miracles, and Jesus wanted them to believe in him by his word, which brought the truth into immediate contact with their souls. He did not deny the value of his miracles in preparing for faith; he called upon them himself.

The father was not put off by the severity of Jesus’ words, but in his anguish he insisted, with emotion, « and begged him earnestly : ‘My daughter, still so young, is at the last extremity. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may be saved and live » (Mk 5:23)

So Jesus responded to his trust by granting him more than he asked for. Without going with him at the time, he announced the healing of his son with these sovereign words: « Go, your son lives » (Mk 5:23). « This action of Jesus was a further test of the officer’s fledgling faith, for he had to return with only a word.

As he went down to Lake Tiberias, the servants ran to meet their master with great joy, so that they could tell him the good news sooner. They used the same words to tell him the good news that Jesus used, which meant, « He is not only not dead, but he is well.

The father was joyfully certain of his son’s recovery, but he wanted to know whether the word of Jesus, which he had believed, was the only cause of it; this confirmed his faith.  The seventh hour, according to the Jewish way of dividing the day, indicates an hour after noon.

In this case, the father had time to return from Cana to Capernaum the same day, the distance being six or seven hours’ walk and the anguish of his heart having to speed up his journey. So when the servants spoke of the healing as having been accomplished the day before, they spoke in the manner of the Jews, who after six o’clock in the evening referred to the past day as yesterday.

He believed in the word of Jesus, whose divine power he recognised, but he believed in Jesus himself as Messiah and Saviour. And all his household, his whole family and his servants, shared his faith.  The greatest and most precious thing for this father was the healing of his son.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Catholic culture : click here to read the paper →  Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

◊ Psalm 29   : click here to read the paper → Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent – Isaiah 

   Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

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