20th Sunday after Pentecost
Epistle: Ephesians 5. 15-21;
(Note Epistle differs from the Ancient
Gospel: St. John 4. 46-53
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The man in today's Gospel is a court-official, probably in the service
of King Herod. Capharnaum was a town with a custom post where a man with
rank would serve. He is a character much like the centurion, who approaches
Christ with the faith, however weak, the Lord demands of those who would
draw near to him. It was such Galilean cities as Capharnaum that Christ
condemned for their slowness to believe, despite the many miracles they
demanded of the Lord and which they never tired of seeing.
Faith, not miracles, is the sign that God is with us and blesses us.
Faith does not spend its energies running after miracles and apparitions
in far places, but entrusts itself in quiet and joyful confidence to God
wherever called to live out the Gospel.
Faith is a personal act--the free response of the human person to the
initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act.
You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life.
The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others.
Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about
our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers.
I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my
faith I help support others in the faith. (CCC 166)
This carrying on and handing on of the faith with and through others
is the grace of the Church, Christ's Body through which all grace comes
into the world. This includes the grace of faith.
It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes, and sustains
my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: "Throughout
the world the holy Church acclaims you," as we sing in the hymn "Te Deum";
with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: "I believe,"
"We believe." It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life
in Christ by Baptism. In the Rituale Romanum, the minister of Baptism asks
the catechumen: "What do you ask of God's Church?" And the answer is: "Faith."
What does faith offer you?" "Eternal life." (Roman Ritual, Rite of baptism
of adults.) (CCC 168)
Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith
through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother
of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our
salvation." (Faustus of Riez, De Spiritu Sancto 1, 2:PL 62, 11) Because
she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith. (CCC 169)
However marvelous the cure gained by approaching Jesus, more marvelous
by far is the miracle of faith, which moves the man or woman to approach
almighty God with confidence in His power and love. Listen to St. John
"Here was a robust faith [in the case of this official]; therefore Jesus
made him the promise, so that we might learn from this man's devotion;
his faith was as yet imperfect, and he did not clearly realize that Jesus
could effect the cure at a distance; thus, the Lord, by not agreeing to
go down to the man's house, wished us to learn the need to have faith"
(Hom. on St. John, 35).
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we
"meet Christ in the liturgy"
Used with the permission of Fr. Cusick from his website.