First Point.—"An officer whose son was sick at Capharnaum, having heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, went to Him and begged Him to come and heal his son." This officer had a son, the object of all his tenderness, who was sick; the malady was so violent that there was no hope of his restoration except by a miracle. Jesus had already done a great number of miracles in this city, but He had left it. What a sad plight for this unhappy father, on the point of losing all that was dearest to him in the world! In his sorrow he inquires and is informed where Jesus was; he had heard all that had been said of Him, and he learns that Jesus had left Judea and had gone to Galilee. Then, fearing that Jesus would arrive too late at Capharnaum, he determines to set out to meet Him and to ask Him to hasten His journey. He will not entrust this mission to any one, but leaves his son to seek assistance for him. He departs without thinking of the length of the journey or the fatigue.
Have for the salvation of your soul the eagerness which this father had for the health of his son, and you shall discover, as he did, all that contributes to your health, your sanctification, and your perfection; you shall not be arrested either by human respect or by shame of confessing your faults, or by the difficulties of the sacrifices you may make. If the officer of Capharnaum now gives you a lesson by his eagerness in going to find Jesus, he gives you another, no less important, by the fervor of his prayer. Hardly had he found Jesus than he begged Him to come and heal his dear sick one. But Jesus said to him, "Unless you see miracles and wonders you do not believe," and the officer insists by saying, "Come, Lord, before my son dies."
The prayer of this man was indeed defective, because he seemed to think that Jesus could not heal his son except He was near him; but how admirable are his fervor, his humility, and especially his perseverance! A confidence less solid should fail before a reproach which had all the appearances of a refusal; but, far from being disconcerted, he humbles himself and gives to his prayer a fresh energy. He exclaimed: "Lord, my son is near dying; hasten, I conjure you; come quickly before he dies." O happy father, not to be rejected ! His perseverance is rewarded. Jesus said to him: "Go, your son is healed." Strive to know the Master whom you serve. If He defers hearing you, if He seems to reject you, it is His love which prompts Him to act so and for your greater good. Ask Him, therefore, in confidence, but ask Him with an entire resignation to the designs of Providence, for all temporal goods, health of body, success in your studies, success in your enterprises; if He refuse you, then believe it is for your interest and bow down to His holy will. Ask Him for spiritual goods. God owes them to you. Ask them of Him eagerly and with perseverance, and rest assured He shall grant you always more than you ask of Him.
Second Point.—Consider the beginning, the progress, and the recompense of this man who comes to implore the healing of his son. His faith is not an enlightened one; the idea which he had formed of Jesus after what he had heard of Him in Capharnaum was very imperfect. He believed, it is true, that Jesus could heal his son, but he did not believe He could heal him without seeing him, touching him, and speaking with him. He did not know that Jesus could work miracles at a distance as well as near at hand, when absent as well as when present, and that a single act of His will was sufficient. He was far from believing that Jesus was the Son of God, God Himself, the Creator and Master of the universe. Have you a more precise idea of Jesus? Have you such an idea as faith gives and demands? Should the divine Master address you as He once addressed the apostles, "What think you of Me?" could you respond without hesitation and with the same assurance as St. Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"? The progress of his faith. The reprimand of the Saviour had made an impression on this man; and when he heard Jesus in tones of authority pronounce these words of hope, "Your son is healed," he believed in the words of Jesus, and departed fully persuaded his son should be restored to him.
Therefore he believed in this miracle without having seen it; he ceased to be of the number of those of whom Jesus had just spoken, who did not believe unless they had seen. On his return the servants, who had been witnesses of the sudden healing of their young master, met him and said: "Your son liveth." At this happy news, he does not permit his heart to indulge in vain joy. He forgets himself and thinks only of his Benefactor. This prodigious eventshall have for him practical and important consequences. He asks of the servants at what hour his son got better, and recognized it was at that very moment that Jesus said: "Your son is healed." "He believed, and his whole house with him." Then it was that he understood that Jesus had not only predicted the healing, but had also accomplished it. He was struck at the sight of a power so divine, and he believed not only in the words of Jesus, but in Jesus Himself. He recognized Him
as the Son of God, the promised Messias, and the Saviour of the world. May your faith in Jesus likewise grow in proportion to the benefits you receive from Him.
Recompense of his faith. The first recompense which this happy father received was the restoration of his son to health. What reward for his long journey, his fatigues, and his sacrifices ! And for us, also, our first and sweetest recompense when we shall sincerely seek Jesus shall be the healing of our soul. We shall recover the beauty of virtue, peace of heart, and the friendship of God and our rights to heaven. What a happiness ! Can we ever do too much to merit this? The second recompense he received was the perfection of his faith. The faith of this man which came from seeking Jesus was indeed generous; but, observe, it was also an enlightened faith. When he had left Jesus it had received a wonderful increase which exalted it to the very perfection of faith. He believed without reserve the words of Jesus, regarding Him as the Messias, the one by whom alone we can have access to God. And not content with believing in Him, he inspired his whole household with his faith, and gained for Jesus all those hearts over whom he had authority. God does not cease to lavish His blessings on you, but shall they serve to increase your love for Him and your zeal for His glory?
Who could not grieve for this man when he saw his son, whom he loved so much, at the point of
death! And still, that very circumstance which made him an object of compassion in the eyes of
men was the means of leading him and his household to Jesus. Oh, how little we understand our true interests when we complain of God and murmur against the dispositions of His providence!
Ah, rather than murmur, let us adore the profound wisdom of God, directing us in all things. After the example of the model we have just studied, let us also profit by sickness and afflictions. They should prompt us to have recourse to God, to unite us with Him intimately, and to detach us from the world more and more.
Source: Short Instructions on the Feasts of the Year, Imprimatur 1897