Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
We are so often blinded by our sinfulness but yesterday we heard of a God who goes to extraordinary lengths to show us the light of His love. Those wandering in the desert, having heard God’s promise did not believe His promise; only when He gave them a sign that confirmed His love, did they believe. Likewise Jesus gives us the sign of His body on the Cross to reveal the truth of God’s love and His conquest of death.
This week’s Gospel readings are from that of John, which begins with the well-known prologue on the Word of God, rich with themes of light and darkness. The Word of God, John says, is “the light and life of the human race.” God reveals more of Himself by His unseen Word rather than visible “light.” Why is this? Why not simply show us?
Today’s Gospel gives us an insight into why. A royal official comes seeking Jesus’ help in healing his dying son, to which Jesus replies, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” This is the same Jesus who later says to St. Thomas, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:29) In other words, God’s Word—His promise—is sufficient for belief. Consider how John’s Gospel begins with echoes of Genesis: “In the beginning…” In Genesis God says, “Let there be light,” and there was. In John’s Gospel it says, “In the beginning was the Word…” God’s Word was first, before light; thus we are invited by God to trust Him not because He shows us through signs that He is trustworthy, but because of Who He Is; He invites us to take Him at His Word. He desires our love, but He does not want to purchase that love with signs and miracles if it is possible that we might come to love Him without such things. Is our love of God conditional, based on what He shows us, or is our love of God as unconditional as is His love for us?
Coming to Cana where Jesus had changed water to wine, the official sought Him out, no doubt thinking that this miracle-man could work similar wonders for his son. Jesus works no sign in the man’s presence; the same God who spoke light into existence out of nothingness gives His Word that the boy will live. The greater miracle in today’s Gospel is this: “The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” Though the official came looking for a miracle what he got was a promise, and that was enough for him. Here again the shadow of death is dispersed in the light of God’s love. Let us ask God for the grace to trust more and more in His promise, in His Word, and not despair when we ask God for a sign and seem not to receive one. God gave us His Word, He who is the Truth (John 14:6); He cannot fail you.