First Reading: From the Second Book of Kings 5:1-15
1 Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him Yahweh had granted victory to the Aramaeans.
2 But the man suffered from a virulent skin-disease. Now, on one of their raids into Israelite territory, the Aramaeans had carried off a little girl, who became a servant of Naaman’s wife.
3 She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria! He would cure him of his skin-disease.’
4 Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’, he reported, ‘is what the girl from Israel has said.’
5 ‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram, ‘I shall 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.
6 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 skin-disease.’
7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said, ‘for him to send a man to me and ask me to cure him of his skin-disease? Listen to this and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’
8 When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent word to the king, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’
9 So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house.
10 And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’
11 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 Yahweh his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the part that was diseased.
12 Surely, Abana and Parpar, 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.
13 But his servants approached him and said, ‘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.” ‘
14 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.
15 Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and, presenting himself, said, ‘Now I know that there is no God anywhere on earth except in Israel. Now, please, accept a present from your servant.’
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4
2 I thirst for God, the living God; when shall I go to see the face of God?
3 I have no food but tears day and night, as all day long I am taunted, ‘Where is your God?’
3 Send out your light and your truth; they shall be my guide, to lead me to your holy mountain to the place where you dwell.
4 Then I shall go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy. I will rejoice and praise you on the harp, O God, my God.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Luke 4:24-30
24 And he went on, ‘In truth I tell you, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
25 ‘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,
26 but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a town in Sidonia.
27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many suffering from virulent skin-diseases in Israel, but none of these was cured — only Naaman the Syrian.’
28 When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged.
29 They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him off the cliff,
30 but he passed straight through the crowd and walked away.
Theme: Jesus’ power to heal and cleanse
Do you believe that God wants to act with power in your life today? Power to set you free from sin and hurtful desires, fear and oppression. Throughout the Scriptures we see God performing mighty acts to save his people from death and destruction – from Noah’s ark that spared his family from the flood of wickedness that had spread across the land to Moses and the Israelites who crossed through the parting waters of the Red Sea as they fled the armies of Pharoah their slave Master and oppressor.
Throughout the Gospel accounts Jesus praised individuals who put their faith in God as they remembered the great and wonderful deeds he had performed time and again. Jesus even praised outsiders – non-Jews and pagans from other lands who had heard about the mighty deeds of the God of Israel. One example Jesus mentioned was Naaman the pagan army commander from Syria who was afflicted with leprosy – a debilitating skin disease that slowly ate away the flesh (2 Kings 5:1-15). Naaman’s slave-girl was a young Jewish woman who had faith in God and compassion for Naaman her master. She urged him to seek healing from Elisha, the great prophet of Israel.When Naaman went to the land of Israel to seek a cure for his leprosy, the prophet Elisha instructed him to bathe seven times in the Jordan river. Namaan was indignant at first, but then repented and followed the prophet’s instructions. In doing so he was immediately restored in body and spirit.
Healing the leprosy of soul and body
What is the significance of Naaman’s healing for us? Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD), an early Christian teacher from Edessa, tells us that Naaman’s miraculous healing at the River Jordan, prefigures the mystery of the healing which is freely granted to all nations of the earth by our Lord Jesus through the regenerating waters of baptism and renewal in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
“Therefore Naaman was sent to the Jordan as to the remedy capable to heal a human being. Indeed, sin is the leprosy of the soul, which is not perceived by the senses, but intelligence has the proof of it, and human nature must be delivered from this disease by Christ’s power which is hidden in baptism. It was necessary that Naaman, in order to be purified from two diseases, that of the soul and that of the body, might represent in his own person the purification of all the nations through the bath of regeneration, whose beginning was in the river Jordan, the mother and originator of baptism.” (commentary ON THE SECOND BOOK OF KINGS 5.10-1)
Jesus told Nicodemus, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). The Lord Jesus wants to renew in each one of us the gift of faith and the regenerating power of baptism and the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) which cleanses us of the leprosy of sin and makes us “newborn” sons and daughters of God.
Confronting the sin of indifference and unbelief
When Jesus first proclaimed the good news of God’s kingdom to his own townspeople at Nazareth (Luke 4:23-27), he did not hesitate to confront them with their sin of indifference and unbelief. He startled his listeners in the synagogue at Nazareth with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God could receive honor among his own people. He then angered them when he complimented Gentiles who had shown more faith in God than the “chosen ones” of Israel. Some who despised the Gentiles (non-Jews) even spoke of them as “fuel for the fires of hell.” Jesus’ praise for “outsiders” offended the ears of his own people because they were blind-sighted to God’s merciful plan of redemption for all the nations. The word of rebuke spoken by Jesus was met with indignation and hostility. The Nazarenes forcibly threw him out of their town and would have done him physical harm had he not stopped them.
The Lord brings healing and pardon to all who humbly seek him with faith and trust
We all stand in need of God’s grace and merciful help every day and every moment of our lives. Scripture tells us that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). God gives grace to the humble who seek him with expectant faith and with a repentant heart that wants to be made whole and clean again.
The Lord Jesus will set us free from every sinful habit and every harmful way of relating to our neighbor, if we allow him to cleanse and heal us. If we want to walk in freedom and grow in love and holiness, then we must humbly renounce our sinful ways and submit to Christ’s instruction and healing discipline in our lives. Scripture tells us that the Lord disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness(Hebrews 12:10). Do you want the Lord Jesus to set you free and make you whole again? Ask him to show you the way to walk in his healing love and truth.
“Lord Jesus, teach me to love your ways that I may be quick to renounce sin and wilfulness in my life. Make me whole and clean again that I may delight to do your will.”