Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading 1: (2 Kgs 5:1-15b)

 

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.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: No prophet is accepted in his own native place.

             

            We are discouraged and angry when we tried the best as we can to love and to care for our loved ones, but these people are indifferent with our love or even cause more suffering to us.

            Today readings show human gratitude and ingratitude to God. In the first reading, the author of the Second Kings reported the healing of Naaman from leprosy by the prophet Elisha. Though he was a Gentile and an Israel’s enemy but he was gratitude for his healing and confessed that: “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.” In the Gospel, even though Jesus used history to point out the ingratitude of people in the past and the results of their stubbornness, the people in the synagogue were still 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.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Prophet Elisha showed Naaman the way to be healed from his leprosy.

1.1/ Two people with two different faith:

            (1) The maidservant of Naaman’s wife: Though she was an Israelite, she didn’t hate Naaman who took her out of her country; in opposition, she desired Naaman to be healed. She absolutely believed that God can heal Naaman through the prophet Elisha’s intercession. This is a very dangerous act because she can lose her life if Naaman shall not be healed.

            (2) The Israel king: He was always in doubt and afraid of others. When he finished reading the letter, he 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!" Be a king in Israel, he didn’t know, and wasn’t concerned about the prophet Elisha who had power to heal and was living in his nation. 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."

1.2/ Naaman’s faith was confirmed by his servants: Naaman’s attitudes taught us many lessons.

            (1) The need of humility: The pride of the individual or of the nation is the main reason why people don’t receive God’s grace. Naaman got angry because the prophet Elisha didn’t come out to welcome him, but only through his messenger. Naaman forgot that he needs the prophet, not the prophet needs him. Another unreasonable thing is that Naaman had in his head what the prophet needed to do to heal him, and got angry when the prophet didn’t do that. Many times in our life, we also have certain things in mind which we want God and others must do that to help us! Lastly, he was proud about all the rivers of his country when he made the comparison, saying, “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?”

            (2) The need to recognize the common senses in life: There are many common things which people can’t recognize when they are angry. When the servants saw Naaman angrily came back to Syria, they begged him: "My father, 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."Back to his sense, 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.

            (3) Naaman declared his faith in God: He returned with his whole retinue to the prophet 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. Please accept a gift from your servant."

            It was a shame when a Gentile officer who had a strong faith than the Isaelites’ king. He believed in the words of his maidservant, and on his long way to find Elisha, God’s prophet. After he was healed, he declared his faith in God.

2/ Gospel: “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.”

2.1/ Jesus taught them a historical lesson: Today passage continues the report that Jesus came back to Nazareth, his own native place. After reading the Book of Isaiah, the people in the synagogue sat down and Jesus began to teach them. He invited them to look back at the history to recognize what they should and shouldn’t do, by saying: "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Jesus illustrated two historical examples with a purpose to advise them to have faith in him.

            (1) Prophet Elijah and the Zarephath widow: Jesus said: "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.”

            (2) Prophet Elisha and Naaman’s healing from his leprosy: “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."

2.2/ The history was repeated: “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.”

            Not like Naaman, they couldn’t control their pride and anger. They thought that Jesus violated their sense of honor when he compared them to the Gentiles. Actually, Jesus only wanted them to recognize the truth, but they refused to do so.

            Not as Naaman, they didn’t recognize the common sense in life. History can teach people many valuable lessons. Jesus invited them to learn from people of the past. If they made wise and useful decision, imitate them; if they made unwise decision, don’t imitate them.

            It was a shame when a Gentile and Phoenecian woman expressed her faith in Jesus by saying: "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters" (Mt 15:27). But many people in Jesus’ native place not only refused to believe in him but also angrily pushed him from a mountain. This truth is still happening for all Jesus’ disciples.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - When we feel discouraged and want to give up our good works, remember the truth that Jesus teaches us today: “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.”

            - If Jesus incarnated to redeem people and was treated as such, we are his disciples must endure the same fate. They don’t crucify us to the cross yet.

            - This lesson also helps us to open our eyes to recognize God’s grace and others’ helps which continually pour upon us, so that we should not be ingratitude to God and our benefactors.

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