In today’s Gospel from the Mass (John 4:43-54), Jesus demonstrates that He can heal from a distance:

[43] After the two days he departed to Galilee.[44] For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. [45] So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast. [46]So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Caper’na-um there was an official whose son was ill.[47] 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. [48] Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” [49] The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” [50] Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. [51] As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. [52] So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” [53] The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household. [54] This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

There are a number of things that are remarkable about what Jesus does:

  • The official is an unlikely person to approach Jesus:  he is likely a ruler under Herod Antipas, the same Herod that has John the Baptist killed.  The official works for a killer of Jesus’ cousin.  Not exactly the most likely to approach Jesus.
  • But, the official is clearly desperate:  he travels the fifteen miles from Capernaum to Cana, not a small thing.  Imagine the official’s desperation as he is hurrying, attempting to get to this miracle worker in a last ditch effort to save his son.
  • So desperate is the official that when he sees Jesus, he “begs” …this is in itself extraordinary; a royal official, perhaps even a Gentile, begging a Jewish preacher to come and heal his son.  Begging would have been seen as dishonorable, especially for someone as lofty as a royal official.
  • At first, it seems that Jesus rebukes the official.  But instead, Jesus  is challenging him to demonstrate his faith:  “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”  In reality, Jesus is rebuking the crowds who have been looking for signs, using the royal official to teach about true faith, a faith that does not rely on signs.
  • The man, demonstrates this true faith: he doesn’t ask for a sign, but simply says that if Jesus comes, he believes his child will be saved.
  • Jesus tests the official again by not responding to his request to return with him to Capernaum, saying that “Go, your child will live.”
  • The official believes; the impossible.  For no one can can heal from a distance. can they?  But the official “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.”
  • This is remarkable faith, a saving faith.  And the offical’s son is saved.
  • The idea that the child is healed is sometimes glossed over.  We must ask ourselves:  How exactly does Christ’s healing from a distance work?  We might imagine all kinds of projections of healing energy, Christ’s ability to be at the child’s side while remaining present with the official.  How does Jesus know the child is healed?

It is mysterious and marvelous.  How Christ heals from a distance is a mystery.  But one thing we can be sure:  the child was going to die and Jesus healed him from a distance of fifteen miles.

The Gospels tell us the Truth, that the impossible is possible in Christ.

It is up to us to accept Christ’s Word in the Gospel with faith.  Kinda like the royal official.