Father Girardey offers, for our consideration, a fifth narrative, The Healing of the Ruler’s Son (Jn 4:46-53): “There was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. Having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and prayed Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to Him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word that Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him; and they brought word, saying that his son lived.”
Father Girardey notes: “We see that the ruler’s power and wealth could not avert sickness or death from his son, and that youth is not secure and possesses no privilege against disease and death.” Moreover, “it was misfortune that brought him to Jesus. . . . An apparent serious misfortune is a true benefit, a real blessing. . . . All physical evils may, in God’s providence, become real blessings and promote and even be necessary for our salvation.”
“He first met with a rebuke from our Lord on account of his very imperfect faith, and probably also of his wavering confidence in Jesus, for he thought that Jesus, like physicians, could cure only the sick they had seen and diagnosed. . . . He, like many Christians of our times, believed that Jesus could help him, but only in his own way, by going with him to his sick son. But Jesus soon made him aware that he was mistaken, for He said to him: ‘Go thy way, for thy son liveth,’ that is, thy son is now cured. The ruler believed Jesus, and at once set out for his home. . . . The dangerous illness of his son proved a real blessing for himself and family.”
“Whenever we ask some favor, some benefit, some grace, someone’s conversion from God, we usually expect God to grant it to us in a certain way, within a certain time, and we feel great disappointment if He does not; we do not consider that God is able to grant the favor to us in many other ways, and that He is the best judge of the way most appropriate, most beneficial to us. Let us imitate the ruler, who having heard the declaration of Jesus that his son was cured, believed Him and at once returned home.”
Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).