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MARCH 8. LENT. WK. 3. LK. 4. 24-30

Updated: Aug 28

Jesus came to Nazara and spoke to the people in the synagogue: ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this all in the synagogue were enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

Jesus is highlighting an important issue in this Gospel reading; - namely the dangers of over familiarity, and it is also an issue for Christians today, in that it is easy for us to become over familiar with our Faith and the Wisdom of the Gospels.

And this extends to the practices of our Faith; - Prayer, Worship, Liturgy, the Eucharist, Devotion to Mary, Scripture, Charity, Mortification; - just to name a few. We become so familiar with these practices and devotions we take them for granted.

And familiarity is especially serious in another area, namely Sin; - where it can easily become integrated with our way of life, and we lose sight of how damaging it is to the spiritual life, and our relationship with Almighty God!

And this also applies to “The Great Commandment”, where we are told of the necessity of “loving” both God and Neighbour, and the danger we face of adopting the values of the world; - which encourage us to “love” ourselves instead.

Over familiarity is also highlighted in the text immediately preceding this reading where Jesus was preaching in the synagogue where we are told; - “and all spoke well ofJesus and they wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth”.

But then, because the people were so familiar with Jesus, they asked; - “Is this not Joseph’s son?” as if to imply, ‘we know this man well, and we see him a lot around town, so he cannot teach us anything new!”

And we are not immune from this danger! We hear the Gospels year in and year out; - and we regularly offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; - and receive the Eucharist; - and it is so easy to overlook our need for regular Confession, Prayer, Devotion to Mary and private devotions.

All of these practices involve Divine Gifts, or Divine Teachings, but through over familiarity with them we can lose sight the enormity of what we have been given and the fact they are all necessary in order to attain an intimate relationship with God; - both now and for Eternity!

The Prophet Elisha cleansed Naaman, not only a foreigner, but also an enemy of God’s people; - who were reluctant to believe. Christ often had the same experience; - frequently finding a greater readiness to listen from the Gentiles than he did from the Israelites!

Gospel Acclamation cf.Ps129:5,7

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

I hope in the Lord, I trust in his word;

with him there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

First reading 2 Kings 5:1-15 ·

There were many lepers in Israel, but only Naaman, the Syrian, was cured

Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper.

Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’

Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’ ‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’

So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’

When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’

So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’

But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage.

But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean.”’

So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.

Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’

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