There are three miracles of healing from a distance in the Gospels: One is the healing of the Centurions’ son, Another is the healing of the Syrophenician woman’s daughter. And the last is the healing of the son of the Royal Official from Capharnaum. This last is the first miracle of “giving life” in John’s Gospel. It is an anticipation of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
What is striking here in this periscope is that this man was more than likely a Gentile. He did not ask for a sign from Jesus. He simply asked him to come down to his home and heal his son who is near death. Jesus responded to his request, because this father’s deep faith.
Jesus says “You may go, your son will live. The man believed what Jesus said to him and he left.” Jesus was impressed with this man, unlike others they wanted to see signs. But because of his deep faith, he took Jesus at his word and returned to be with his son.
How does one draw on the deep faith the Centurion had? How does one take Jesus in faith and trust and return to our responsibilities? Different people have different ways. The Paul Bechtold Library in Chicago has a very impressive painting by Joseph O’Connor. The picture is a depiction of Peter crying copious tears and in his hands he has a rooster by the neck and is strangling it. I asked the student what it was that she saw in this picture, that caused her to pay it a visit every day of her classes. Her reply was the agony of Peter is so authentic it touches her heart, and gives me a deep sense of peace.
Where do we find this peace? There is an essay by C. S. Lewis entitled “Palaces of Peace.” He says in this essay that there are four palaces where we can find peace. The first is in solitude, the second is in relationships with others, the third is in simplicity of life, and the fourth is compassionate presence.
Let this Lenten season be palace of peace for all of us. Let us deepen our faith in Jesus Crucified, in whom we place our faith.
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is the local superior at Holy Name Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.