Preaching John

Gerald O’Collins SJ

Founding a domestic Church
(John 4.46–54)
Compared with some of the stories that John’s Gospel tells of people meeting Jesus, this story of the court official is much shorter. It is, nevertheless, spiritually very rich, like those longer stories. Take, for example, the way the official is named in the story.

He races to meet Jesus as an official in the service of one of the local rulers. He is a court official; that is his role in society or, you might say, his public mask. When Jesus says to him, ‘go home, your son will live’, we read: ‘the man believed what Jesus had said and started on his way’. In the original Greek, ‘the man’ in fact is ‘ho anthro–pos (the human being)’. In the core of his human existence, he hears what Jesus says to him, puts his trust in that word, and at once sets off home.

Then he finds that his little boy is well again, and he is called ‘the father’. The story ends with the father sharing faith in Jesus with his whole family. He and all his household become believers. Meeting Jesus and trusting the word of Jesus take nothing away from the man. His son is cured and his entire family shares his faith in Jesus.

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