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Meeting Christ in the Liturgy
by Fr. Cusick
(Note:  CCC refers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

20th Sunday after Pentecost

Epistle: Ephesians 5. 15-21; (Note Epistle differs from the Ancient Lectionary)

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 Chrysostom:

"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"

---Father Cusick 

Used with the permission of Fr. Cusick from his website