For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
I will extol you, O Lord, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit. (R./)
Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing. (R./)
Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me;
O Lord, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks. (R./)
When the two days were over, he went from that place 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.
As Isaiah looks forward to a new heaven and a new earth, we too look forward to a life beyond the here and now. So Jesus gave hope to the Roman offficer at Capernaum, who begged for help when his son was nearly dead. He gave him a promise, ‘Go home. Your son will live.’ This pagan centurion trusted what Jesus said and set off for home, sure that the lad would recover. Do we share this trust that the Lord can take care of us too? Do we know that he loves us, whatever our background or status? Can we believe that whatever may happen, we are safe in God’s hands? Let us today repeat the officer’s prayer of faith: "Yes, Lord, I believe."
Jesus really can work miracles, now no less than then. After taking the initiative of coming to Jesus, the centurion believed his son would recover. The Gospel notes this as the second sign given by Jesus. The first sign was the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:11). These are signs of new life and joy, promises that the old will be swept away and the pains of the past be remembered no more. They point to a new creation beyond the reach of death. You have changed my mourning into dancing. O Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
Many people asked Jesus for help as he went around the villages, teaching. But the centurion was particularly insistent, and in response to his perseverance, Jesus grants his request, though in an unexpected way. He did not go to the boy’s sick-bed but simply said, "your son will live." The centurion had to take the word of Jesus and he did just that. The Lord’s word was enough, and on the way home he found that it was true.
We may often feel that the Lord is ignoring our prayer, or does not answer as we expected. If that happens, we need to persevere like the man in the gospel. Jesus really does respond to prayer, in one way or another. We must just take him at his word and let his promise be enough for us.