Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the love and kindness of God in healing us from our sickness and troubles, in reconciling each and every one of us to Himself, so that by doing so, He may lead us all to a new life and existence with Him, free from the troubles and corruptions of sin and evil. He wants us to be freed from the tyranny and dominion of sin, which have kept so many of us separated from God, and which had led to the downfall of many of our predecessors. That is why today’s Scripture readings remind us of what God had done for His people, and for all those who come to Him seeking for healing, mercy and forgiveness, and how our attitude and action in embracing or rejecting God’s love and mercy is important in determining our fate.
In our first reading today, taken from the Second Book of Kings, we heard of how a mighty Aramean warrior, named Naaman the Syrian was healed by God through the prophet Elisha. At that time, the kingdom of Aram in what is Syria today was a great enemy and rival of the northern half of the kingdom of Israel. And that Naaman was a great general in the employ of the King of Aram, who was afflicted with leprosy. Leprosy as described in the Scriptures is not exactly the leprosy as we know it today, as Biblical studies and evidences pointed out that this leprosy instead referred to a highly infectious kind of skin disease that can also afflict even buildings and fabric, which nonetheless quite a lot of discomfort and inconvenience for whoever it was that contracted the leprosy. Its highly infectious nature made the leper to be shunned and rejected by the community, and for them to be ostracised against.
Hence, without a cure in sight and in desperation, the King of Aram sent his right-hand man and trusted general to Israel to seek the prophet Elisha, who was known for his miracles. That was how we heard about the whole account of how Naaman travelled to Israel in the search of the prophet Elisha, asking him to heal him from his affliction of leprosy. Naaman sought for healing from God, and the prophet told him to dip himself seven times in the River Jordan. As we heard, initially Naaman was upset and refused to do as he was told to do, proudly declaring that he could have done the same in any rivers found in his own home country of Aram. But eventually Naaman conceded after his servant pointed out the foolishness of his pride and arrogance, as the prophet was asking him to do something that was very easily done. Naaman therefore did as Elisha told him, and was healed.
Then, in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to the people living in His own hometown of Nazareth, regarding how they refused to believe in Him and in the message that He was bringing to them. Why was that so? That is likely because they must have thought that because they knew Him well as the Son of the local carpenter, who is His foster-father, St. Joseph, then they thought that it must be impossible for someone like Him to be the One that God had sent into this world to save all of us, or even as a Prophet. Essentially, their pride and arrogance, just like that of Naaman earlier, acted as a barrier and an obstacle in preventing them from opening themselves up to the truth and love of God. As such, they remained separated and closed off from the Lord and the richness of His grace and mercy. God Himself has come into their midst to reach out to them, but those people shut off the doors of their hearts and minds against Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, these readings are reminders for us all that we must not allow the temptations of our pride and ego, our arrogance and hubris, greed and other things to become obstacles in our journey towards the Lord. We must always be vigilant and careful in living our lives that we do not end up being distracted and misled by all those temptations, pressures, coercions or all the attachments we have to worldly matters and desires, all the things that can cause us to end up being like those who rejected God’s love and compassionate mercy. That also almost prevented Naaman from gaining healing and providence from God, if not for his obedience and willingness to humble himself, and follow what the Lord had told him to do. That is why, all of us are called to do the same as well, and learn to listen to the Lord and to obey His Law and commandments from this Lent and henceforth.
This also brings us back to the nature of sin again. Sin itself is brought about because of our disobedience against God and our refusal to obey Him, and as such, we become corrupted by sin. Satan himself fell from grace because of his refusal to obey the Lord, and becoming filled with pride and ego, with jealousy and desire for the glory and power of God. His fall and the fall of our ancestors were examples and reminders for all of us not to fall into the same trap that had those had encountered, just as how Lucifer, the mighty and brilliant Angel of God was thrown down because of his pride in trying to usurp the rule over Creation from God, and in his rebellion, and how Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, fell into disgrace and sin because they also disobeyed God’s commands and chose to eat of the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, allowing themselves to be swayed by the temptations of worldly desires, of knowledge and glory, and thus sinned against God.
In this season of Lent we are all reminded to resist those temptations and open our hearts and minds to welcome God and His truth into them. All of us are called to deepen our relationship with the Lord, by our efforts in coming closer to Him, spending more quality time with Him through prayers and other means. It is time for us to learn to listen more to God, turning ourselves to Him once more and doing whatever we can to obey His will. Let us all turn away from the path of sin and evil, freeing ourselves from the many temptations, bonds and enslavement to our many attachments and desires in this world. That is why we deepen our relationship with God, spending time in prayer, committing ourselves to fasting and abstinence among other things we do this Lent, and in doing what we can to overcome the threat of sin, by the grace of God.
Let us all be humbled like Naaman, and come to the Lord with a contrite heart, regretting our many sins and wickedness, and turning towards Him once again with faith. Let us all return to Him and be reconciled with Him, and find healing for the sickness that we all experience, the sickness due to our sins and wickedness, that God alone can heal, through His ever generous mercy and forgiveness. May God be with us all and may He empower each one of us to always be faithful to Him and to be ever more worthy to walk in His path. May God bless us in our every good works, efforts and endeavours, now and always. Let us lastly also pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who is celebrating the tenth anniversary since his election as Pope at the Papal Conclave in 2013, that God will always bless him and guide him in his ministry as our shepherd. Amen.