On my first reading this morning of this account of the royal official from Capernaum whose young son lay dying, I furrowed my brow at the repeated use of the word believe. Jesus uses it once in his initial response to the man's request when he says, ...you will not believe. We are then told that after Jesus tells him that his son will live that The man believed. On his long trek home he is met by his slaves who tell him of his son's recovery at the hour that Jesus said the son would live and we hear So he himself believed, along with his whole household.
The first thing that troubled me was that we hear that the man believed and then we hear again that he believed. Which one was the time that he really believed? On my second reading, my guess is that the second time John says that the man believed was a reiteration of the prior belief and a lead in to his whole household becoming believers. (Not having access at the present time to the original Greek I can't check whether the tense used is different in the word believe in those two sentences, so I'm just talking here....) It is also possible that we can believe, and then not believe and then something happens and we believe once again. Perhaps this is what the Gospel writer we call John is getting at this morning.
Be that as it may, I wonder what it takes for us to believe.....believe in anything beyond what is tangible. Do we need signs and wonders? Do we need fancy words? Do we need proof? Or can we believe in something that is beyond our understanding by the use of our intellect and reason? Can we believe in Jesus without seeing his miracles firsthand? This is one of the things we are asked to do as members of the Body of Christ. Not an easy thing to do....The Episcopal Church never asks people to check their reason or intellect at the door, and that is a key characteristic in our Church's theology and ecclesiology. Nevertheless, there is a leap of faith that is necessary at times. Today's Gospel is asking us to examine that leap.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.