Third Week of Lent
1st Reading: 2Kngs 5:1-15ab
Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the Lord had brought victory to Aram. But valiant as he was, the man was a leper. Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife. “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,” she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went and told his lord just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said. “Go,” said the king of Aram. “I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments. To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!” When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.” Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the Lord his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left. But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”
Gospel: Lk 4:24-30
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
At the Forefront of a movement: Truth is uncomfortable to hear, and is often unsettling too. The words of Jesus sting the listeners. His intention is to challenge the listeners to repent. This is because, he does not accept the living of faith of the Pharisees and scribes. Hi mission is clear: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor” (Lk 4:18). He does this following an assurance from the Father, “you are my beloved son”. His task is to establish a new world order. It is due to this that he takes up the role of proclaiming the release of the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, amidst other strategies to bring the Kingdom of God to all ( Lk 4:18). Let us allow the living of our faith to touch the lives of others, creating in all a new society.
Prayer: God our Father, may we love human beings with the conviction that we form a human family.
WE NEED CHILD-LIKE HUMILITY TO ACCEPT JESUS: In the Gospel of Luke, the Good News is preached for the first time in the home-village of Jesus. However, it gets rejected, because the people of Nazareth are not able to go beyond the ordinariness of Jesus – it is impossible that one of us is the promised prophet. Jesus uses the example of Naaman, because Naaman had to be too humble to travel from Syria to Israel to be healed by Prophet Elisha. Look at the details in the first reading of today: Namaan decided to go to Israel at the words of a foreign, little, slave-girl; again, he has to go and bathe in the Jordan leaving all the rivers in Syria, this he does again at the coaxing of a servant. These decisions could only be executed by one who had child-like humility. As a result, his skin became like that of a little child! We too need humility in order to be rejuvenated by the Good News during this season of Lent.
BROTHERHOOD BEYOND BLOOD AND BORDER: The context of today’s Gospel is the return of Jesus to his hometown. He goes to the Synagogue and reads form the Scroll of Isaiah. He was already a popular figure and the gathering was eagerly expecting to hear from him. Unfortunately, the crowd is not pleased with his words and wanted to throw him off the cliff. They expected Jesus to address the problem of the Roman invasion and offer political liberation. However, he implicitly ascertains that the Messiah has a message of universal brotherhood aiming at social transformation and not on political rebellion. He underlines it by the choice of God for the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian overlooking the widows and lepers of Israel. True brotherhood extends beyond blood and borders to the one who is truly in need.