Psalm 42: 2, 3; 43:3, 4 “…Athirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?…”
Luke 4: 24-30 “…’Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place…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...”
Blessed Angela Salawa (1881-1922) Born in Siepraw, near Krakow Poland, she came from a large family. She cared for the soldiers during the World War I, regardless of their nationality or religion. Of her Pope John Paul II said during her beatification ceremony in Krakow “It is in this city that she worked, that she suffered and that her holiness came to maturity.”
From the first reading we find a courageous soldier and commander from Aram, Naaman who has Leprosy. His King supports his going to the land of Israel. It is a little girl who is in Naaman’s household, a servant to his wife who tells him to seek this cure from a prophet in Samaria. This story is loaded with pictures of our own human reaction to guidance. Naaman’s King wants to send him to the King of Israel, maybe only Kings had this power in his mind. The king to whom he sends Naaman gets flustered and tears his garments, he knows he can’t cure this soldier; he thinks he’s being set up for a fall. But Elisha, the prophet hears of this visit and tells the King to send this man to him, so he will know there is a prophet in Israel. Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house eventually, but after Elisha tells him to dip seven times in the waters of the Jordan for his cure, Naaman gets angry. He had expectations that this prophet would just touch his wounds and cure him. He’d rather dip in his own rivers. I could see myself in Naaman’s reaction. When I pray to the Lord, I always ask for Divine intervention, and then I move quickly to how God might settle the matter. Then when God is working on it, I question when the “cure” takes a different turn, forgetting that God is in charge of his own fixes.
In Luke’s Gospel today, Jesus refers to this very incident, Elisha’s cure of a man who did not live in Israel, despite the fact that Israel had people with leprosy too. It is easy to look at our readings today and ask why people didn’t listen to the prophets in their midst. Hindsight has lots of advantages. But, all we have to do is look at our own reactions and actions to realize we haven’t changed very much. The dictionary defines a prophet as “a person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.” (The American Heritage Dictionary) The Church through the Vicar of Christ our Pope has been consistent in preaching chastity and purity in our sexual lives. Our Church has warned that we’ve enacted laws that support a culture of death rather than a culture of life. Recently I’ve listened to the news and the public debate over whether states should mandate young teen girls to get vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer caused by certain venereal diseases. I can’t help but think we don’t believe our young teens are capable of saying no to sex, and with multiple partners. In our own area, we hear that venereal diseases are very high among the young teens. Why is the incidence of sexual activity increasing? Do we just write off talking to our teens about abstinence? The reason to me seems to line up with the message in our readings today. We don’t believe the prophets of today, much less the ones who were sent before.
During Lent, the good Lord is asking us to look at our response. God can keep sending prophets, but if we don’t listen life will be more difficult. As the Vicar of Christ, it is no wonder that people have referred to our Beloved Popes as Prophets, but do we use good discernment when we listen to them? Jesus points out in the Gospel reading that prophets are not usually accepted in their home land. But with communication as good as it is today, our access to hearing this message is more accessible than ever. Will we continue to stare at the face of truth, and wonder why so pervasive? The answer: let us all spend more time in prayer this Lenten season seeking God’s Will. The message is very clear for us today; as we hear from the Prophet (the Word) let’s listen and obey.
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