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Grace, Faith and Works
Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast. Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, “The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.” The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, thank you for coming to set things right in my life. Help me to have faith in your holy word and its saving power.
- The Power of Intercessory Prayer: Even from a distance, Jesus’ word was enough to save the royal official’s son. The father came to Jesus in search of his mercy and grace for his child. This shows the power of intercessory prayer. We can trust in Jesus to take care of us, our loved ones, and every other problem that seems bigger than we are. We can abandon ourselves to the Father’s providential love and care for us because God is good! We might not experience immediate answers or healing, but no prayer ever goes unanswered. Each prayer is answered according to God’s will. Even when we do not know how to pray, all that is necessary is to come to Jesus in faith, as the royal official did in this passage. When we have no words for prayer, the Holy Spirit takes care of the rest: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28). Indeed, everything that occurs in our life works together for our good when we seek God’s will and trust in his mercy.
- Necessary Faith: Actually, Jesus’ word plus one other thing was necessary for the boy’s healing: faith. The father’s faith in Christ saved his son: “The man believed what Jesus said to him.” Faith is necessary for healing and salvation. God’s grace is the element at work in healing and salvation, but our belief in his grace is essential. St. Paul teaches about this relationship between grace and faith: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Notice that we were created specifically for the good works that God has prepared for each one of us. It is our duty and privilege to walk in these good works. These works do not save us, but they are proof of a faith that is fully alive: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?…So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14, 17). St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” Let us live in grace and walk in the good works that God has planned for us.
- Gather Grace: Good kings solve the problems of the kingdom and Jesus came to restore order as part of his kingly role. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would restore health and order to Israel: “The deaf shall hear. The blind shall see. The lame shall walk. The desert will bloom. The weak and fearful will become strong and brave” (cf. Isaiah 35). God still restores health and order to his children today through his grace, which we can access when we notice it at work in our lives and cooperate with it. We can imagine God’s grace like flowing water from the tap. The water is always there, ready to be poured out. In order to gather the grace, we have to hold a cup under the faucet and turn on the tap. This shows how we participate in God’s grace. We recognize it is there, open ourselves to its working in our lives, and then believe and trust in its power.
Conversing with Christ: Christ my King, thank you for coming to restore me and for pouring your grace out upon me. I am sorry for the times when my faith has been lacking and when I have not come to you in search of your grace. Jesus, I know that all things are possible when I trust in you. I want to believe even more deeply. Please help me in the places where I do not believe and am lacking in trust of your loving care for me (cf. Mark 9:23-24).
For Further Reflection: Read this short reflection by St. Teresa of Avila: Christ Has No Body But Yours.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.