Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

237 Monday of the Third Week of Lent

CCC Cross Reference:
Ps 42:3 2112

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Reading 1
2 Kgs 5:1-15ab

Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram,
was highly esteemed and respected by his master,
for through him the Lord had brought victory to Aram.
But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.
Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel
a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.
“If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,”
she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman went and told his lord
just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said.
“Go,” said the king of Aram.
“I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”
So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents,
six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments.
To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read:
“With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you,
that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter,
the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed:
“Am I a god with power over life and death,
that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?
Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”
When Elisha, the man of God,
heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments,
he sent word to the king:
“Why have you torn your garments?
Let him come to me and find out
that there is a prophet in Israel.”

Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
The prophet sent him the message:
“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
“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.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?”
With this, he turned about in anger and left.

But his servants came up and reasoned with him.
“My father,” they said,
“if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary,
would you not have done it?
All the more now, since he said to you,
‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”
So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival he stood before him and said,
“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel.”

Responsorial Psalm
42:2, 3; 43:3, 4

R. (see 42:3) Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Gospel
Lk 4:24-30

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“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
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
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.”
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.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

First reading 2 Kings 5:1 – 15

Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper. Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. ‘She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’ Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’ ‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy’. When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’

When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more’. But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage. But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean”.’ So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.
Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’

First Reading: Exodus 17:1-7 (Note: This reading would only be used during Cycle B-see  Lectionary #236)

The whole community of the sons of Israel moved from their camp in the desert of Zin at the Lord’s command, to travel the further stages; and they pitched camp at Rephidim where there was no water for the people to drink. So they grumbled against Moses. ‘Give us water to drink’ they said. Moses answered them. ‘Why do you grumble against me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?’ But tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’ Moses appealed to the Lord.

‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

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

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

Like the deer that yearns
for running streams,
so my soul is yearning
for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

My soul is thirsting for God,
the God of my life;
when can I enter and see
the face of God?

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

O send forth your light and your truth;
let these be my guide.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

And I will come to the altar of God,
the God of my joy.
My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp,
O God, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life: when can I enter and see the face of God?

Gospel Luke 4:24 – 30

Jesus went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

Readings and Commentary from the Navarre Bible

Monday of the 3rd Week of Lent

From: 2 Kings 5:1-15ab

Naaman Is Cured of Leprosy
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[1] Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was great man with his master and in high favour, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. [2] Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little maid from the land of Israel, and she waited on Naaman's wife. [3] She said to her mistress, "Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him his leprosy." [4] So Naaman went in and told his lord, "Thus and so spoke the maiden from the land of Israel." [5] And the king of Syria said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel."

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten festal garments. [6] And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, "When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy." [7] And when the king of Israel read the letter, he rent his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me."

[8] But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, "Why have you rent your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel." [9] So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the door of Elisha's house. [10] And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean." [11] But Naaman was angry, and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. [12] Are not Abanae and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not ash in them, and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. [13] But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean' ?" [14] So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

[15] Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him; and he said, "Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel."

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Commentary:

5:1-8. The king of Syria would have been Ben-hadad II, and Joram or Jehoram, the king of Israel. From the very start of the account we can see that it is the one God, the Lord, who guides events even outside Israel (v. 1). And the circumstances which continue to bring Naaman news of the prophet are also of the Lord's making. The reaction of the king of Israel is understandable because everyone should know that God alone is the Lord of life and death, of health and sickness (cf. Deut 3 2:39; Job 5-18).

5:9-14. The scene of Naaman's arrival at the house of Elisha is full of significance. Before obtaining a cure for his physical ailment, Naaman needs to learn to obey the prophet's word. The pomp surrounding Naaman contrasts sharply with the simple message conveyed by Elisha's servant; the Syrian is expecting some magical rite to be performed on his behalf, whereas in fact he is ordered simply to bathe in the Jordan. Naaman needs to see that the prophet of the Lord is not a magician or a kind of witch-doctor who cleanses him when he does what he is told.

Naaman will come to see that it is not the waters that cure him, but God himself. His obedience needs to be put to the test: he has to dip in the water seven times. A similar command to Elisha's and an obedience like Naaman's, are be found in the cure Jesus works for the man blind from birth (cf. Jn 9:6-7). Both these episodes are rightly seen a prefigurement of baptism, the sacrament in which, through water and obedience to Christ's word, man is cleansed from the leprosy of sin and is given the gift of faith: "The crossing of the Red Sea by the Hebrews was a figure of holy Baptism, for the Egyptians died but the Hebrews escaped. This is what the sacrament daily teaches us--that in it sin is drowned and error destroyed, whereas devotion and innocence cross unscathed. [...] Finally, learn the lesson provided by the book of Kings. Naaman was a Syrian, and a leper, and there was no one who could cure him [...]; he bathed and, finding he was cured, he realized immediately that it was not the water that curedhim but the gift of God. He doubted prior to being cured; but you who are already cured, should not have any doubts" (St Ambrose, "De Mysteriis", 12, 19).

5:15-19. Naaman's profession of faith (v. 15) is the climax of this episode, the true miracle. In the history of the king of Israel, their idolatry is denounced time and time again; Naaman, by contrast, is an example that all Israelites should imitate. The fact that he takes away with him heaps of soil (land) from Israel is explained by the prevalent idea that a god could only be worshipped in the land where he manifested himself, and any land where idolatry was practised was on that account desecrated (cf. Amos 7:17).

Naaman's act of thanksgiving (vv. 15-17) is reminiscent of the Gospel passage (cf. Lk 17:11-19) where Jesus cures ten lepers, but only one, a stranger, returns to thank him. Jesus had good reason to complain (cf. Lk 4:20-27) of our impudence in daring to think that we have in some way merited the gifts God gives
us.

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From: Luke 4:24-30

Jesus Preaches in Nazareth (Continuation)
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[24] And He (Jesus) said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. [25] But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; [26] and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. [27] And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." [28] When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. [29] And they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow on the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong. [30] But passing through the midst of them He went away.

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Commentary:

22-29. At first the people of Nazareth listened readily to the wisdom of Jesus' words. But they were very superficial; in their narrow-minded pride they felt hurt that Jesus, their fellow-townsman, had not worked in Nazareth the wonders He had worked elsewhere. They presume they have a special entitlement and they insolently demand that He perform miracles to satisfy their vanity, not to change their hearts. In view of their attitude, Jesus performs no miracle (His normal response to lack of faith: cf., for example, His meeting with Herod in Luke 23:7-11); He actually reproaches them, using two examples taken from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Kings 17:9 and 2 Kings 5:14), which show that one needs to be well-disposed if miracles are to lead to faith. His attitude so wounds their pride that they are ready to kill Him. This whole episode is a good lesson about understanding Jesus. We can understand Him only if we are humble and are genuinely resolved to make ourselves available to Him.

30. Jesus does not take flight but withdraws majestically, leaving the crowd paralyzed. As on other occasions men do Him no harm; it was by God's decree that He died on a cross (cf. John 18:32) when His hour had come.

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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

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