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The setting of today's gospel story is the town of Cana in Galilee. Anyone who has been part of our many parish pilgrimages to the Holy Land, including the one we did at the beginning of this month, has visited Cana. It is a small town close to Nazareth, and it is there that we remember the much more famous miracle (or sign, as St. John calls them) of the wedding at Cana, in which Jesus turned the water into wine. (John 2: 1 -12)
The second miracle or sign that Jesus performs also is set in Cana. The story is moving. A royal official's son from Capernaum, on the north shore of the Sea Of Galilee, is very ill. The official undertakes the long journey (probably on foot, which would take at least one full day) in the hope he can find Jesus. Fortunately for him, he encounters Jesus in Cana. He delivers his request, and at first Jesus deflects it. But then he goes one level deeper, and from the core of his being he says to Jesus, "Sir, come done before my little boy dies". Jesus then tells him that his boy will live. And the miracle happens.
A few things that strikes me about this story. First, that the official was so desperate that he would leave his home in the desperate hope of finding Jesus. Remember, there was no news, no internet, no phones at that time. He has to take a real chance in trying to locate Jesus, who could have been anywhere in Galilee. Secondly, he trusts that Jesus' statement that his son will recover. Most people, they would have instead been begging Jesus to please come and see their son now. They would be saying to Jesus that it would only be through Jesus' physical presence, and touch, that the boy would be healed. But no, the official trusts that Jesus' words will be enough, even from afar. And it was.
So many times how we can wish that Jesus would be physically present, right here, right now. How we wish Jesus would come down from heaven and wipe away the threat of the COVID-19 crisis. And you can add your own examples.
But it is the faith of the royal official of today's gospel that we need in our lives right now. Trusting in the presence of God in our lives and in the life of this world right now. Recognizing that there is is much we can do - like praying for all those doctors and nurses and health care workers and scientists who are trying to stem the tide of this crisis: like being good citizens by following provincial and federal requests not to hoard goods, and keeping our physical distance from others; like calling others to see how they are doing. The list goes on and on.
Hoping, praying, and trusting - that was the story of the royal official - and that is a core message of today's gospel.
Today, let us pray another prayer of trust - the prayer that we say just before we receive Holy Communion:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. Amen.