Friday, October 11, 2013

Lectio notes on John 4: 43-54

Healing the royal official's son by Joseph-Marie Vien, 1752.

This section of St John's Gospel includes this Sunday's Gospel (for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost), in the story of the nobleman or ruler, constituting St John's second 'sign' or miracle.

It is not clear whether the man concerned is a royal official (ie of Herod's regime) or a Roman - the story is similar but not identical to the story of the Centurion's son in the synoptic Gospels.

Omitted from that Sunday reading though, sandwiched between these two stories of the positive reception of the Gospel by those who were essentailly outsiders, is a brief reference to the less than friendly reception Jesus receives in his own country.

It is a timely reminder in these days when the unfriendly reception to tough teaching so often seems to come from those who claim to be within the Church as much as from those outside it.


You can find the Greek, Latin and English translations for the rest of John 4 over at New Advent here.  For the audio you can find the Latin (from 4.52) over at the excellent Greek Latin audio site, and similarly the Greek here (5.18).  Alternatively, listen to the video I included in a previous post in this series.

The Latin:

43 Post duos autem dies exiit inde, et abiit in Galilæam. 44 Ipse enim Jesus testimonium perhibuit, quia propheta in sua patria honorem non habet. 45 Cum ergo venisset in Galilæam, exceperunt eum Galilæi, cum omnia vidissent quæ fecerat Jerosolymis in die festo: et ipsi enim venerant ad diem festum. 46 Venit ergo iterum in Cana Galilææ, ubi fecit aquam vinum. Et erat quidam regulus, cujus filius infirmabatur Capharnaum. 47 Hic cum audisset quia Jesus adveniret a Judæa in Galilæam, abiit ad eum, et rogabat eum ut descenderet, et sanaret filium ejus: incipiebat enim mori. 48 Dixit ergo Jesus ad eum: Nisi signa et prodigia videritis, non creditis. 49 Dicit ad eum regulus: Domine, descende priusquam moriatur filius meus. 50 Dicit ei Jesus: Vade, filius tuus vivit. Credidit homo sermoni quem dixit ei Jesus, et ibat. 51 Jam autem eo descendente, servi occurrerunt ei, et nuntiaverunt dicentes, quia filius ejus viveret. 52 Interrogabat ergo horam ab eis in qua melius habuerit. Et dixerunt ei: Quia heri hora septima reliquit eum febris. 53 Cognovit ergo pater, quia illa hora erat in qua dixit ei Jesus: Filius tuus vivit; et credidit ipse et domus ejus tota. 54 Hoc iterum secundum signum fecit Jesus, cum venisset a Judæa in Galilæam.

The English:

[43] Now after two days, he departed thence, and went into Galilee. [44] For Jesus himself gave testimony that a prophet hath no honour in his own country. [45] And when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things he had done at Jerusalem on the festival day; for they also went to the festival day.[46] He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. [47] He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. [48] Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. [49] The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. [50] Jesus saith to him: Go thy way; thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way.[51] And as he was going down, his servants met him; and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. [52] He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him. [53] The father therefore knew, that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house. [54] This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee.


I want to focus in on those verses about the devaluing and outright rejection of Jesus by those who should have been most receptive to him, for in our own times, those who have never heard the Gospel most often welcome it; those who think they know it however, are most likely to reject it.

The Catena Aurea's commentaries on these verses are as follows:

"ORIGEN After this conversation with the disciples, Scripture returns to those who had believed on the testimony of the woman, and were come to see Jesus. 

CHRYS. It is now, as it were, harvest time, when the corn is gathered, and a whole floor soon covered with sheaves; And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him, for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all that ever I did. They considered that the woman would never of her own accord have conceived such admiration for one Who had reproved her offenses, unless He were really some great and wonderful person. And thus relying solely on the testimony of the woman, without any other evidence, they went out to beseech Christ to stay with them: So when the Samaritans were come to Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them. The Jews when they saw His miracles, so far from begging Him to stay, tried in every way to get rid of His presence. Such is the power of malice, and envy, and vainglory, that obstinate vice which poisons even goodness itself. Though the Samaritans however wished to keep Him with them, He would not consent, but only tarried there two days. 

ORIGEN. It is natural to ask, why our Savior stays with the Samaritans, when He had given a command to His disciples not to enter into any city of the Samaritans. But we must explain this mystically. To go the way of the Gentiles, is to be imbued with Gentile doctrine; to go into a city of the Samaritans, is to admit the doctrines of those who believe the Scriptures, but interpret them heretically. But when men have given up their own doctrines, and come to Jesus, it is lawful to stay with them. 

CHRYS. The Jews disbelieved in spite of miracles, while these exhibited great faith, be fore even a miracle was wrought, and when they had only heard our Lord's words. And many more believed because of His own word. Why then do not the Evangelists give these words? To show that they omit many important things, and because the result shows what they were; the result being that the whole city was convinced. On the other hand, when the hearers are not convinced, the Evangelists are obliged to give our Lord's words, that the failure may be seen to be owing to the indifference of the hearers, not to any defect in the preacher. And now, having become Christ's disciples, they dismiss their first instructor; And they said to the woman, Now we believe not because of your saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. How soon they understand that He was come for the deliverance of the whole world, and could not therefore confine His purposes to the Jews, but must sow the Word every where. Their saying too, The Savior of the world, implies that they looked on this world as miserable and lost; and that, whereas Prophets and Angels had come to save it, this was the only real Savior, the Author not only of temporal but eternal salvation. And, observe, whereas the woman had spoken doubtfully, Is not this the Christ? they do not say, we suspect, but we know, know, that this is indeed the Savior of the world, not one Christ out of many. Though they had only heard His words, they said as much as they could have done, had they seen ever so many and great miracles. 

ORIGEN. With the aid of our former observations on Jacob's well, and the water, it wills not be difficult to see, why, when they find the true word, they leave other doctrines, i.e. the city, for a sound faith. Observe, they did not ask our Savior only to enter Samaria, St. John particularly remarks, or enter that city, but to tarry there. Jesus tarries with those who ask Him, and especially with those who go out of the city to Him. 

ORIGEN. They were not ready yet for the third day; having no anxiety to see a miracle, as those had who supped with Jesus in Cana of Galilee. (This supper was after He had been in Cana three days.) The woman's report was the ground of their belief. The enlightening power of the Word itself was not yet visible to them.

AUG. So then they knew Christ first by report of another, afterwards by His own presence; which is still the case of those that are without the fold, and not yet Christians. Christ is announced to them by some charitable Christians, by the report of the woman, i.e. the Church; they come to Christ, they believe on Him, through the instrumentality of that woman; He stays with them two days, i.e. gives them two precepts of charity. And thenceforth their belief is stronger. They believe that He is indeed the Savior of the world. 

ORIGEN. For it is impossible that the same impression should be produced by hearing from one who has seen, and seeing one's self; walking by sight is different from walking by faith. The Samaritans now do not believe only from testimony, but from really seeing the truth."


Christ's unfriendly reception by his own people is something repeated over and over in history, and not least in our own time.

The old saying familiarity breeds contempt is all too common in our churches, where all too many bishops fail to teach; where all too many priests fail to to lead their people in proper reverence and worship; and where all too many people receive the Eucharist sacrilegiously due to sin.

We need to be willing, as the woman at the well was, to act as apostles, whether to the schismatics and heretics of our time, as well as to those to whom the message no longer seems fresh.

And the next set of these lectio notes can be found here.

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