Scripture: 1st Reading: 2Kgs5,1-15; Resp. Psalm: Ps42,2,3;43,3,4; Gosp. Accl.: Ps130,5,7; Gospel: Lk4,24-30
Naaman was successful in everything: a great soldier, statesman, man of valour, victorious and well decorated general. As a result of his military prowess that brought victories to the Syrian army, he was held in highest honour by the king of Syria.
Naaman's public life was therefore the envy of his compatriots. Many wanted to be like him. Privately, however, Naaman's life was a study in sadness, shame and gloom. This was because Naaman was a leper. This man must have been clever to have concealed this aspect of his life from the prying eyes of the people.
The little slave maid of Naaman's wife, the one who had been carried off from the land of Israel, was the one who offered Naaman the possibility of a cure: that in Samaria was a prophet of Yahweh who could heal him. God was going to use the sad circumstance of this maid's life to bring about a turnaround in the life of Naaman, bring Naaman's family to the worship of the living God, and demonstrate His sovereign power over every creature, no matter their tribe, colour, language, creed or nation.
Naaman went to meet prophet Elisha and in spite of his initial dismay that he was asked to wash in the Jordan seven times, and that Elisha did not perform some abracadabra to impress him, he eventually went, bathed and was totally healed of his leprosy.
Elisha told Naaman to go to the Jordan, wash and be clean. Naaman did not know that one of the characteristics of God was that He worked in mysterious circumstances, through innocuous means, in unexpected ways. All that was required of Naaman was to trust and obey the voice of the prophet of God. Healing, turnaround of fortunes and change of personal circumstance always accompany trust and obedience.
This trust and obedience was one of the important points made by our Lord in today's gospel passage. Our Lord came to Nazareth where He grew up. He knew it was difficult for the people to trust Him and obey His voice because they had always known Him and thought they knew His origin.
This was why He said to them that no prophet was acceptable in his own country. As a proof of their rejection of His message and of His person, they put Him out of the city, led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, with the intention of throwing Him down to His death.
Trust and obedience to the voice of God is one aspect of our faith in God that Lent helps us to restore. We sin against God because of deafness and disobedience to the voice of God. We are afflicted by different types of leprosy of sins, iniquities, weaknesses and shortcomings. In Lent, we approach the divine Healer for a transformation and a change of our circumstances.
This Lent, let us not close our eyes to the agents - like Naaman's wife's maid - that God may send to us to point us in the right direction. Let us not behave like Naaman who had preconceived ideas about how his healing was to take place and who in his pride repudiated the simple solution that God was offering him through Elisha His prophet. Let us listen to the voice of God and obey.
Let us pray: "May your unfailing compassion, O Lord, cleanse and protect your Church, and since without you she cannot stand secure, may she be always governed by your grace." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Rev. Fr. Anthony Igbekele