Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(as listed in the Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, 2017)

27 March, 2017. Monday, Week 4 of Lent

1st Reading: Isaiah 65:17-21

"Rejoice in what I create!" Good things in store for those who love God

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.

Gospel: John 4:43-54

Jesus cures the son of a royal official, his second miracle in Cana

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.


Bible

An outsider shows the way

Isaiah looks forward to a new heavens and a new earth. We too look forward to a life beyond the here and now, when in God's presence we will somehow live a new kind of existence. St. Paul writes of a new creation, when what is sown perishable will be raised imperishable (1 Cor 15:42). Jesus gave hope to the soldier at Capernaum, whose son was nearly dead when came and asked for help. Quite simply he told him, 'Go home. Your son will live.' This pagan officer put his trust in Jesus and started for home, trusting that the boy who was gravely ill will now have a full recovery! Do we share the hope and confidence of this pagan official, that the Lord can work miracles in our lives? Are we convinced that God cares for each of us, whatever our religion or status? Is our heart secure in the faith that whatever happens at the end of each journey .. no matter what .. it will really be for the best? We can make our own the officer's prayer of faith: "Yes, Lord, I believe."

Jesus really can work miracles, now no less than then. The centurion believed his promise, "Your son will live." Vibrant faith does not exclude human initiative. If it did, the officer would never have bothered coming to Jesus asking that his son be healed. We are told that this was the second sign given by Jesus. The Cana miracle of water into wine was the first sign (John 2:11). These are signs of new life and new joy, promises that the old will be swept away and the past be remembered no more. They point to a new creation through and beyond death. Hear, O Lord, and have mercy, for you have changed my mourning into dancing.


A request granted

Many people approached Jesus for help as he went around the villages. On this occasion a court official asked him to come to his home and cure his seriously ill son. This official was probably attached to the court of Herod Antipas. His request at first met with what seems like a refusal. But he wasn't put off; he persevered, "come down before my child dies." In response to this man's perseverance, Jesus grants his request, but not in the way the man wanted. He didn't go home with him to cure his son; he simply said, "your son will live." The man had to believe the word of Jesus and he did just that. He returned home on his own, with the promise of Jesus in his heart, and on the way he discovered that his prayer had been answered.

When we approach the Lord in prayer, asking for his help, we too can feel that the Lord is not answering our prayer. He does not engage with us in the way we had hoped. When that happens, we must persevere in prayer, like the royal official in the gospel. Like him, we will discover that the Lord will answer our prayer, even if not in the way we expected. Like the royal official we are asked to take the Lord at his word and to travel with the Lord's promise in our hearts.