Monday, 16 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the need for us all to be humble and to accept God’s truth and words, to be open to Him pointing out our errors and weaknesses, our faults and imperfections that we do not end up falling further and further into the trap of sin and evil. For the devil certainly wants us to be kept away by our ego and pride, that we end up distancing ourselves from God.

The devil does not want us to be saved, and he would tempt us to be arrogant and prideful as what we heard today in the story of Naaman the Syrian, who went to the land of Israel seeking for healing from the leprosy he had been suffering from. Naaman sought the prophet Elisha, whose renown for healing and miracles were known far and wide even to the kingdom of Aram in today’s Syria where Naaman came from.

At that time, leprosy was a dreaded disease that was thought to be a curse and terrible ailment that not only disfigured a person’s appearance and made him appear terrible, but it also could spread in the community, leading to the people suffering from leprosy being ostracised and rejected, avoided and resented by the rest of the community. That was why Naaman was desperate to have his leprosy healed by Elisha.

But when Naaman sought the prophet Elisha, he was told to wash himself at the River Jordan seven times, and he would be healed. Immediately Naaman hesitated and was held back by his ego. He argued that Elisha should have come to welcome him personally and perform some wonderful actions and gestures, as most wonder or miracle workers were commonly known to do, and he wanted that to be the way he was healed, as it was easy and most importantly, put him in the superior position, and the prophet Elisha as the one acceding to his desire to be healed.

This was exactly where the devil tried to prevent Naaman from finding healing, not just from leprosy but also from his sinfulness and lack of faith, by placing pride, ego and stubbornness in his way. Naaman was proud and he was tempted by his ego to forgo and disobey the instructions given from God through His prophet Elisha. But thankfully, Naaman’s servant reminded him to be humble and to be open to accept the conditions that he had to fulfil in order for him to be healed. As the servant pointed out, it was a very easy thing for him to do, to bathe seven times in the River Jordan.

In the end, Naaman obeyed, humbling himself in obedience to God, by listening to the instructions of Elisha and followed what he had been instructed to do, to the letter. It was through his obedience and humility that he received healing and freedom from his earlier trouble of leprosy. Naaman became a believer and had faith in God from then on, abandoning his pagan beliefs and the pagan ways of his ancestors, in exchange for a new faith in the one and only True God, the same God Who healed him and made him whole once again.

Then now, let us all see the case presented in our Gospel passage today, which was about the time when the Lord Jesus was in His hometown of Nazareth, as He taught among them and performed miracles and healings in thier midst. However, many of the people doubted Him and wondered where Jesus got all of His power and wisdom from, and in fact, they were offended by the face that they knew Him as the Son of a mere village carpenter, St. Joseph, the Lord’s foster-father.

They refused to listen to the Lord or believe in Him because they stubbornly persisted in believing that what they had known earlier about Jesus as the Son of a mere carpenter meant that He could not have attained such power, authority and wisdom. Their prejudices and ego prevented them from having faith as they hardened hearts and minds against God. As such, the Lord could not do much in their midst, and in the end, He left His hometown lamenting for their lack of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why in this season of Lent, we are all encouraged to remove from ourselves our ego and pride, and our excessive attachment to them. We are called to be more humble and be more open to receive chastisement, reminders and advice from God and His servants, through whom He wants us all to be changed and to follow His ways and not our own ways. We are called to have a deeper and better relationship with God, and the best way is for us to keep ourselves connected to Him through prayer, and to be more charitable and generous in giving and loving one another.

Let us all therefore be more vigilant to keep ourselves from the temptations of pride and desire, the obstacles that the devil has put in place to keep us away from God and His salvation. Let us all be humble and be more willing to walk in the path that the Lord has shown us, obeying Him and all that He has asked and taught us to do, as Christians who believe in God, and who ought to put our trust in Him. May God be with us always, and may He bless us in all of our good endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 16 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 4 : 24-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people of Nazareth, “No prophet is honoured in his own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land. Yet, Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet; and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.”

On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought Him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw Him down the cliff. But He passed through their midst and went His way.

Monday, 16 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 41 : 2, 3 and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, o God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

Monday, 16 March 2020 : 3rd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

2 Kings 5 : 1-15a

Naaman was the army commander of the king of Aram. This man was highly regarded and enjoyed the king’s favour, for YHVH had helped him lead the army of the Arameans to victory. But this valiant man was sick with leprosy.

One day some Aramean soldiers raided the land of Israel and took a young girl captive who became a servant to the wife of Naaman. She said to her mistress, “If my master would only present himself to the prophet in Samaria, he would surely cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to tell the king what the young Israelite maidservant had said. The king of Aram said to him, “Go to the prophet, and I shall also send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman went and took with him ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces and ten festal garments.

On his arrival, he delivered the letter to the king of Israel. It said, “I present my servant Naaman to you that you may heal him of his leprosy. When the king read the letter, he tore his clothes to show his indignation, “I am not God to give life or death. And the king of Aram sends me this man to be healed! You see, he is just looking for an excuse for war.”

Elisha, the man of God, came to know that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, so he sent this message to him : “Why have you torn your clothes? Let the man come to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and stopped before the house of Elisha. Elisha then sent a messenger to tell him, “Go to the river Jordan and wash seven times, and your flesh shall be as it was before, and you shall be cleansed.”

Naaman was angry, so he went away. He thought, “On my arrival, he should have personally come out, and then paused and called on the Name of YHVH, his God. And he should have touched with his hand the infected part, and I would have been healed. Are the rivers of Damascus, Abana and Pharpar not better than all the rivers of the land of Israel? Could I not wash there to be healed?”

His servants approached him and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had ordered you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? But how much easier when he said : ‘Take a bath and you will be cleansed.’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan where he washed himself seven times as Elisha had ordered. His skin became soft like that of a child and he was cleansed.

Then Naaman returned to the man of God with all his men.