Twentieth Sunday after
Pentecost—14 October AD 2007
“He came again to Cana of Galilee, where he had made the water wine.
And there was a certain royal official whose son was lying sick at Capharnaum.”
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost -
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost - Latin
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Jesus had the town
of Capharnaum as his base of operations in the northern country around the Sea
of Galilee. Today’s Gospel finds Him in the nearby town of Cana, in
the hill country, roughly half way between Capharnaum on the north shore of
the Sea, and Mount Carmel on the Mediterranean coast. Apparently, Jesus
had family or friends there, for He was invited there, together with His
Mother and disciples to attend the famous wedding where He worked His first
He was, therefore, among people who had seen Him
miracles. Not only the turning of water into wine, but as the Scripture
tells us, “the Galileans received Him, having seen all that He had done in
Jerusalem during the feast.”
As devout Jews, they had journeyed to the holy city to observe the Passover,
and had become familiar with the reputation of Jesus for His miracles and for
His religious zeal. He was also well known at Capharnaum, where He had
cured Saint Peter’s mother-in-law and a number of other sick people, and
demonstrated His ability to cure by forgiving the sins of a paralytic, which
got the whole town stirred up.
It is for this reason—along with His divine perception
of the royal official’s thoughts—that He accused the man of having little
faith, and requiring “signs and wonders” for himself.
But, yet, the official cannot have been completely
without faith. True, he was desperate to save his son, but he wouldn’t
have even tried if he didn’t place at least some small belief in the powers
of Jesus Christ. Perhaps Jesus was comparing him to the Centurion who
met Him at Capharnaum, and demonstrated his great faith by telling Jesus that
it wasn’t even necessary for Him to come in person, “but only say the word
and my servant will be healed.”
As readers of the Gospels, we sometimes benefit from the
stories of those with doubts. Saint John was inspired to write down the
unbelief of the doubting Apostle, Saint Thomas. He is the one who was
not in the Upper Room on Easter Sunday night, when our Lord appeared to the
Apostles for the first time after His resurrection. He wasn’t going to
believe the others that they had seen the resurrected Jesus. He insisted
that he would believe only if he could “see the print of the nails, put his
finger into their place, and put his hand into Jesus side.”
The next time, he was in the upper Room with the others, and Jesus insisted
that he do precisely that. Through his disbelief, we have certainty.
In Saint Mark’s Gospel we learn a beautiful lesson from
the father of a boy possessed by a devil: “O Lord, I do believe;
help my unbelief.”
That man knew enough to realize that faith is a gift of God—that we must
always have His help if we are to believe fully in the things He has revealed
to us. Faith is a theological virtue that comes from divine grace.
We ought to pray daily that God will give us the gift of Faith, and strengthen
it in us ever more, day by day.
From the doubts of today’s “royal official,” we
also might learn that prayer can be of great value even though we are not
personally present to witness its outcome. The official learned the
outcome of his prayer when he returned home—but there are prayers which are
valuable even though we may never know their outcome with certainty in this
life—among them are the most important prayers of all.
We ought to pray for a happy and well provided death for
ourselves and our loved ones—in the state of grace, with the comfort of the
Sacraments, the plenary indulgence of the Apostolic Blessing, and the spirit
of tranquility, acceptance, and anticipation.
We ought to pray for the souls in Purgatory, especially
for those most abandoned.
We ought to pray for the conversion of sinners. And
it makes no difference whether or not we are aware of their happy fortune;
whether they be neighbors, or living on the other side of the world.
We ought to pray for the freedom and exaltation of the
Church. Awful things have occurred during our lifetimes—we probably
will not live long enough to see them rectified, but we must pray nonetheless.
Pray, especially, for good and holy vocations to the priesthood and religious
We ought to pray for good Christian families;
loving parents who will bring forth new generations in the Faith.
Pray also for those who govern lands and nations, often
with the power of great good or great harm.
The royal official returned home and found that his son
had been cured at the very hour of his meeting with Jesus. The Gospel
tells us that, as a result, “he believed, and his whole household with
him.” That is adequate. But shouldn’t we be more like the
Centurion: “Just say the word Lord, and” what I ask will be granted.
There is nothing at all wrong with asking God for the
practical things we need in the here and now—such prayer is an
acknowledgement of our dependence on Him. But we also must recognize
“that prayer is what makes us worthy of the things which God has planned for
And we may have no knowledge of what those things might be—indeed, we may
never know all of them in this life time. So we ought to pray that we
will be worthy of doing God’s will. We ought to pray that God will
give us the gift of Faith, so that we can humbly pray as our Lord directed:
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”