And The Word Is


"Then said Jesus unto him, except ye see signs and wonders,

ye will not believe.   ” St. John iv. 48.


St. John tells us the story of a nobleman from Capernaum who upon hearing that Jesus was in Galilee came to Jesus because his son was at the point of death. This was no run of the mill nobleman; he could have in fact been a King and most certainly was a man of high standing in the court of King Herod. It would have been a sensational event for the nobleman to walk the twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana to beg a village carpenter from Nazareth to heal his dyeing son. He swallowed his pride and neither convention nor custom stopped him from bringing his need to Christ. It was no wonder that Jesus greeted him with the bleak statement “except ye see signs and wonder, ye will not believe”. It is also quite probable that Jesus aimed that statement as much at the crowd that had surely gathered for this sensational event as he did at the nobleman. If the man had turned irritably and petulantly away; if he had been too proud to accept a rebuke; if he had given up despairingly on the spot – Jesus would have known that his faith was not real. But Jesus sensing that the nobleman was sincere told him “go thy way; thy son liveth”. For the nobleman to just accept that his son would be okay because Jesus said it must have been difficult. Yet he had faith enough to turn and walk twenty miles back home with nothing but Jesus’ assurance to comfort his heart.


The story does not end there because the nobleman was not a man who got out of Christ what he wanted and then went back to life the way it was. His life had been changed forever; he and his whole household became believers that Jesus was the Anointed One of God. It would not have been easy at the court of Herod to profess faith in Jesus. The nobleman would have mockery and laughter to endure and there would have been those who thought that he had gone slightly mad. But he was a man who faced and accepted the facts. He had seen what Jesus could do; he had experienced it; and there was nothing left but to accept that Jesus as the Anointed One of God was speaking the word of God. For Jesus those who lack faith never hear and accept the Word of God. 


When we consider what words are in our time twenty centuries later, we know that words just flow over us like a waterfall and sometimes we are so inundated with words that they lose their meaning. They no longer pack the power or the punch. Right now, we hear the words of politicians vying for the nomination as the next presidential candidate.


Take Donald Trump’s comments on calling Mexican illegal immigrants rapists and criminals, a proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and a proposal to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. I mean really are we to believe that the Mexican government actually sends its rapist and criminals to the USA as part of some grand plan because The Donald said they do? Do we really believe the next Great Wall of China will be along the US, Mexican border?  Or there is Richard Nixon’s famous line during the Watergate investigation when he said “I am not a crook”. All across America eyes widened in disbelief. And then there was Bill Clinton’s line during Monicagate, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. You all know how defended that comment as a statement of truth. It is no wonder that we are rather cynical about what we hear from politicians. And how about the words of advertisers, they spend millions of dollars, choosing the right words to describe their product. We hear those words and we trust in them and we bring the product home and it never quite lives up to those glowing promises. It took more than fifteen minutes to find out we did not save 15% on our car insurance. But we had faith in the words; I mean it was on television, it must be true. 

What Jesus is saying and what we have to understand is that in order for us to come to faith, we have to hear the word of God and believe in it. Then something special happens to us. Jesus is, of course, the Word of God as the nobleman learned. He is the Word made flesh. So how does Jesus speak to us now? Well for one He speaks to us in the words of Scripture, and here we can find the truth. I read a blog recently where a person claimed the Gospels were not the word of God because God did not write the bible. Of course God did not write the bible, he sent is son that we might hear the word of God first hand. And the apostles like St. John wrote down what Jesus told them. The gospels are not campaign slogans or the wild claims of advertisers. Scripture is the Word of God. We can trust that what we hear from God's Word is true and right. 


Secondly, the word of God is present to us in the Sacraments. We hear the words of a Sacrament and we know something special is happening. When a little infant is brought to the font of Baptism and the priest pours water on that child's forehead and says, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," we know that something special happened at that moment to the child. Those words have power. They are creative because this person is created as a new person in Christ and they are salvific because this person is filled with the very life of God Himself. 


We also know that the word of God is present in His Church, in His people, in one another. Sometimes it becomes a little more difficult to discern the truth here. But you and I, because we have been given the Holy Spirit, are able to discern what is truth and what is not. We listen, we hear, and we say, "Yes, this is of God. This is the Word of God." And we follow it.


 So what can we learn from the experience of the nobleman? Well a few things actually. If we want the help which Christ can give, we must be humble enough to swallow our pride and not care what anyone else may say. The Christian faith is under attack in this country. We must be earnest in our belief, just as the nobleman was before the help of Christ can come to us; and finally, it is the very essence of faith that we should believe that what Jesus says is true, at times we may have a kind of vague wistful longing that the promises of Jesus should be true but we can only enter into them if we believe in them with the clutching intensity of someone who is drowning, believing that if Jesus says something, it is not a case of ‘It may be true’ – it is a case of ‘It must be true’. God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth. John 4: 24



And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost be ascribed all might, majesty, power and dominion as is most justly due this day; world without end.          AMEN