We hear often in the Gospels how those who believed in Jesus received healings, exorcisms, and were forgiven of their sins. We have also read accounts such as from the Gospel of Matthew that he “did not work many mighty deeds” in Nazareth “because of their lack of faith” (Mt 13:58).
In today’s Gospel account from John, Jesus speaks to a royal official whose son is close to death. Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left (Jn 4:50). On his way home to his son the man is met by the slaves from his household and they told him that his son would live and when they compared notes, they realized the healing occurred at the moment Jesus spoke and the man believed.
What do faith and belief have to do with Jesus being active in our lives? The way of the Gospel, the good news, is all about invitation and acceptance. Jesus enters our world, our reality, gently and humbly. He came as a poor infant, completely dependent on Mary and Joseph for his very survival. He would live the majority of his life in the obscure village of Nazareth most likely working as a day laborer. When he begins his public ministry he does so by inviting people to be a part of his life, to enter into a relationship with him and his Father. People are free to say no or to say yes to that invitation.
Faith is trusting that what Jesus says is true and that he is who he says he is. Belief is the act of our will that aligns with our faith, our trust in him. Jesus invited the man to believe that his son was healed and the man believed and walked away with full confidence that his son would be healed. Belief is followed by an affirmative act of the will. I can believe my car will run, but unless I get in it and turn the key, I am not going anywhere.
Just as the sun rose this morning, Jesus is present to each and every one of us. Just as Jesus invited Zacchaeus to come down out of the tree because he wanted to have dinner with him in his home, Jesus is offering his invitation to us to be a part of our lives. Just as Jesus invited Andrew and Peter, James and John to follow him, Jesus invites us to follow him as well.
If your schedule affords you the opportunity to wake up with the sun or early in the morning while the sun is still rising this week, I invite you to do so. Find a quiet place inside or outside, call to mind anything that you are grateful for, ponder your hopes and dreams, allow any struggles, confusion, sinful patterns, needs for healing and/or forgiveness for yourselves or others to arise. As the light of the sun pierces the darkness, allow it to be an icon of Jesus’ invitation to enter into your life and share with him what came up for you.
“From the east comes the one whose name is Dayspring, he who is mediator between God and men. You are invited then to look always to the east: it is there that the sun of righteousness rises for you, it is there that the light is always being born for you… So that you may always enjoy the light of knowledge, keep always in the daylight of faith, hold fast always to the light of love and peace” (Excerpt from a homily on Leviticus by Church father, Origen, 184-253).
Embrace and be grateful for the light of Christ who comes to you today to guide you through your struggles and confusion, to hear the deepest prayers of your heart, to offer you the confidence that you can believe in his power to heal you and those you love, to invite you to embrace the gift of repentance, and be forgiven. As the warmth of the sun touches your face, breath in deep the mercy and grace of Jesus, believe Jesus is the Son of the Living God and have faith, trusting that he will be with you today in all you do. When you are ready, arise to face the day and walk on in the confidence and assurance, with the faith and belief that you are loved more than you can ever imagine and more than you can ever mess up, and that God will be with you every step of the way today.