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.

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