Monday of the Third Week of Lent, March 16
May God’s Spirit of Truth and Love Always Guide Us to Be Open to and Accepting of His Divine Presence in Others, for We Are All Children of the One God; We Are All Equal in His Eyes.
In today’s Gospel, we hear, “…they were all filled with fury. They rose up [and] drove him out of the town…”
What did Jesus say to His townspeople that got them so angry? Perhaps the answer is found in the people Jesus used as examples, about whom we read in today’s Gospel – “a widow in Zarephath”, visited by the prophet Elijah, and “Naaman the Syrian”, whom the prophet Elisha healed of leprosy.
Neither was from Israel, and that surely must have hit a raw nerve! Was Jesus insulting them? The idea that they were being lectured to by a carpenter’s son might well have been enough to greatly upset them, especially since those in the synagogue were filled with feelings of contempt for non-Jews, especially since the “widow in Zarephath” and “Naaman the Syrian” about whom our Lord was speaking were both Gentiles!
For us to better understand the circumstances in which this Gospel was written, we need to first look at the audience to whom the Evangelist was writing. Luke’s Gospel was written primarily for Gentile Christians, and he focuses on the importance of Jesus’ message as it applies to ALL peoples, especially the poor and the sinner.
Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the importance of one’s salvation through Jesus Christ in fulfillment of God’s Divine plan – a message which gave hope to all those who were treated as outcasts, who were looked down upon and treated contemptuously by the Jewish people.
And it was the Gentiles, those of non-Jewish descent, who needed to be lifted up, who needed to know and believe that there was a God who truly loved them no less than their Jewish brothers and sisters.
So it would only be reasonable to conclude that when the Gentile peoples heard this Gospel read to them for the first time, they were probably elated when they heard Jesus speaking about Elijah being sent to minister to the needs of “a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon” and Elisha the Prophet cleansing “only Naaman the Syrian” from leprosy – both the widow and Naaman being of Gentile descent.
And to better understand the point that Jesus was making in today’s Gospel, let us take a look at the story of Naaman in our First Reading today. Like the people to whom Jesus was addressing in the synagogue, Naaman was filled with pride, being regarded as a valiant commander in the Syrian army. After having received a message from the prophet Elisha to wash in the Jordan River, Naaman felt that he was being treated condescendingly, since Elisha did not even take the time to come out of his house and address him personally.
To which Naaman, this proud commander, responds, “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.” And then he proceeds to complain about the condition of the Jordan River, believing that the rivers in his own countryside were far superior.
But the difference between Naaman of Elisha’s day, and the Jewish people sitting in the synagogue of Jesus’ day, was that Naaman, in spite of his complaining, begrudgingly gave in to humility and became obedient to what Elisha had asked of him.
In the synagogue, however, Jesus’ own townspeople could not see past their own arrogance. In their pride, they felt that they were superior to the Gentiles, that they were far more deserving to be called God’s children. And who was this carpenter, this “son of Joseph”, to teach them otherwise?
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.”
You and I may sometimes question certain events we do not understand, as Naaman did. But we can never contain God’s Love by enclosing it in a box. We can never remake God into our own image, as so many people throughout the world attempt to do even today!
God CANNOT be contained, for His Love permeates every fiber of every race and color, of every creed and nationality! And it is up to each of us to embrace this fullness of His Love, which God freely gives to all His creation, to each and every single one of our brothers and sisters. And God is asking both you and me to do the same – to love without distinction, to love without qualification.
For it is the love and the acceptance we show towards others which separate us from those who live their lives absent of God. It is the thirst we have for God, as our psalmist tells us today, always keeping our eyes on His “holy mountain”, His “dwelling place” as our final reward, which guides us into a right relationship with our fellow man.
During this season of Lent, may God’s Spirit of Truth and Love teach us that our heart, mind and soul must always be opened to the Presence of God in others, even when our first inclination is to turn away from those we do not understand, or treat those we dislike with disdain and condescension.
For our Readings today teach us that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and He is asking that we open our hearts and accept each other, just as God accepts each of us.
And in the spirit of true humility and a joyful obedience to His Divine will, may the joy and hope of the Good News of Jesus Christ enflame our hearts and souls in all that He asks of you and me in our lifetime on this side of eternity – truly loving, truly giving, truly sharing with each other the message of God’s infinite Love and limitless Mercy!
This is His will for us; this is truly our Christian calling in life! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…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…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.” (Luke 4:24-25a, 26-27)
- “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.” (Luke 4:28-29)
- “The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
- “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)
- “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)
- “Do nothing out of selfishness or conceit; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
- “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation.” (1 Peter 2:1-2)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your Love.
May I see each circumstance in my life
as an opportunity to grow in Your Mercy.
May I see my environment
as a place to grow in Your Peace.
“When I am tempted to become impatient,
help me to be patient.
“When I am tempted to become unkind,
help me to be charitable and kind.
“When I am tempted to become jealous,
help me to be tolerant.
“When I am tempted to become boastful or proud,
help me to be humble and give You the glory.
“When I am tempted to be rude or selfish,
give me the gift of gentleness.
“When I am tempted to take offense,
help me to be understanding and let go.
“When I am tempted to become angry with someone,
give me the gift forgiveness.
“When I am tempted to become resentful,
give me Your power to love.
“All gifts and all charisms come from You.
All will one day come to an end,
with one important exception, the gift of love!
Help me to love others as You love me. Amen.”Anonymous