April 4, 2011 - Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Today's Readings

Jesus leaves Samaria for Galilee, “for Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place.” From this line alone, we would almost think that Samaria was Jesus’ native place, but it was not. Galilee was his native place. Jesus goes today to seek a place where he was “without honor.”

The Samaritans had come to believe because of the testimony of the woman at the well and because of what they themselves saw. Indeed, Jesus’ ministry to the Samaritans goes perfectly. He comes, preaches a little bit, converts a sinner, and the whole town came to believe in him over the course of two days. Jesus says elsewhere that if he had gone to any of the pagan cities, the results would have been the same. Samaritans and Pagans heard Jesus and honored him.

Nevertheless, Jesus returns to his native place and his own people so that he will not be honored. Jesus did not come to earth in order to be honored or to be successful in human terms, but to suffer and to die. If Jesus had gone away to Athens or Rome, he would have been greatly honored; he would have been very successful. Instead, he chose to stay with his own people, who would reject him.

When he returns to Galilee, we see a familiar image: a parent persistent in prayer. The royal official sought out Jesus and asked him to come heal his son, who was about to die. Jesus’ response is very harsh. The official simply asks again, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” We do not know if there was something wrong with how he asked the first time, since he is not quoted. He seems to have asked the same way twice.

He does fulfill Jesus words though: it is not until he sees the sign that he converts. Jesus worked no miracles in Samaria, that we are told of, except the miracle of telling a woman about her 5½ husbands, yet the town converted. In Galilee, the people will not believe unless they see signs and wonders. It is not that Jesus did not want to heal the child (he came to give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, and the mute speak), but the honor ought to come first. We should believe in Jesus and, then, expect great things, not insist he do great things if he expects us to believe in him.