March 9, 2015
by Kyle Shinseki, S.J.
Heider College of Business
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Lectionary: 237

2 Kings 5:1-15AB;
Psalm 42:2, 3, 43:3, 4;
Luke 4:24-30

Praying Lent

As human beings, we all desire safety and security.  We like to feel that we know what to expect, whether it be how things are supposed to work or what people are like.   With this knowledge, we believe that we can maintain a level of order in our lives.  Yet sometimes, we can become so set in our ways that we develop what Ignatius would call disordered attachments to what otherwise would be good and holy things.  When we become so attached to these structures that we hold on to them for dear life, we are no longer free to allow God’s grace to enter into our lives.  However, as we enter more deeply into this Lenten season, God comes to shake things up a bit, to encourage us to be free of such attachments, to let go of our preconceived notions of God, of ourselves, and of others. 

In today’s first reading, Naaman felt that he knew exactly how things worked with God.  He becomes frustrated that he cannot be cured of his leprosy simply by Elisha invoking God’s name.  With silver talents, gold pieces, and festal garments in hand, Naaman expects Elisha’s prayer to work like a magic formula to cure him.  When presented with a different path from the one he anticipated, that is to wash in the Jordan, he becomes angered.  Naaman acts as if he knows better, that other rivers would clean him better than the Jordan.  For him, the Jordan was too normal, too mundane to be a source of God’s grace.  Yet, he allows himself to be convinced, to let go of his preconceived notions, and is ultimately cured of his leprosy.

Then in the Gospel, we again see how people are set in their ways and so refuse to receive Jesus, the son of the carpenter.  Not only are they unable to see Jesus in a new light, they are not open to hearing his words.  Jesus’ mere suggestion that God’s grace could be active in the lives of outsiders like Naaman the Syrian and the widow of Zarephath infuriates the people in the synagogue.  Yet our God is a God of surprises, whose grace is active in our lives and in the lives of those around us in ways that we often do not notice or expect.  During this Lent, God calls us to be open and attentive, to see God’s grace with new eyes and to hear God’s Word with new ears.  In doing so, we will encounter the presence of our living God in unexpected ways.

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