Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday in the Octave of Easter

(Acts 2: 14.22-33; Matthew 28:8-15)

The behavior of the chief priests in the gospel of Matthew could turn a saint anti-clerical.  They pay to arrange the arrest of an innocent man. They seek false testimony to condemn Jesus.  They show no compassion for Judas as struggles with a guilty conscious and less for Jesus suffering on the cross.  After Jesus’ death, they ask Pilate for a guard to prevent the abduction of Jesus’ bodies.  And, in today’s gospel, they bribe the same guard to lie about Jesus’ resurrection.  Because the veracity of these outrages cannot be confirmed, it may be best to attribute them to the animosity between Christians and Jews at the time of Matthew’s writing.

The last two assertions here about the chief priests point to one of the reasons Christians give for belief in the resurrection.  His tomb, a marked grave in which Jesus alone is laid in all four gospel accounts, was found to be empty that Sunday morning again in all four gospels.  Unless the body was stolen as the Jews in Matthew’s account allege, there is no other explanation for its disappearance than the resurrection.

However, our faith in the resurrection is based on more than circumstantial evidence.  Jesus also appeared to people after his body was found missing.  Today’s gospel speaks of the first appearance -- to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  Writing almost a generation later, St. Paul will give us a list of such appearances: Peter, the Twelve, five hundred Christian brothers, and himself.  Based on their testimony, the empty tomb, and our own experience of the power of Christ acting in our lives, we do not hesitate to affirm that, yes, he rose from the dead.   

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

(Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16.5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42)

The Gospel of John features encounters with Jesus.  It tells of characters like Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, and Mary Magdalena revealing to Jesus the depths of their hearts and receiving from him unconditional acceptance.  But not everyone who encounters Jesus responds with faith.  The paralytic whom Jesus heals at the pool of Bethesda, for example, never enters into a relationship with him.  In the passage we just read it is Pilate’s turn to encounter Jesus.  The drama of their meeting is intense.  First-time listeners to this passion account may be asking themselves whether Pilate will say “yes” to him.

The scene opens as a typical day in the life of a Roman governor.  Jesus is escorted within Pilate’s residence for a judicial hearing.  Meanwhile Pilate steps outside for the Jews’ accusation against Jesus.  He comes back to ask Jesus whether it is true: “Are you,” he says, “the king of the Jews?” Jesus' reply, “Do you say this on your own…” gives Pilate opportunity to declare himself for Jesus, but Pilate sneers at it.  Then Jesus explains that indeed he is a king whose dominion is over those who recognize the truth of his being sent from God. Pilate cynically responds, “What is truth?”  Aware that Jesus is innocent, Pilate goes outside to negotiate with the Jews, but they demand his crucifixion.  Their comment that Jesus “made himself Son of God” frightens Pilate thinking that Jesus may be who he says he is.  Jesus wins Pilate’s admiration, but when he repeats to the Jews his intention to release Jesus, they bully him by saying that such an act would make him no friend of the emperor.  Pilate capitulates to expediency and decides to have Jesus crucified.

God calls everyone to a personal relationship with Him through Jesus.  Contemporary times incline many to cynically reject the possibility.  They bully others into fearing that having such a relationship will deprive them of pleasure, prestige, or power.  We must rise up against these prejudices with the realization that a positive relationship with Jesus enables us to be all that we can be.  His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead give us an insight into eternal life.  That life – which the Greek of John’s describes as zoe, not the ordinary bios, is the love of the Trinity, a community of radical self-giving and receiving.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday

(Exodus 12:1-8.11-14; I Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15)

The man telephoned the priest.  He said he needed help.  Then he told a pitiable story of being seduced by his mother as a boy and repeatedly victimized by men as an adult.  The priest listened to the man at length but knew that his situation was beyond any help the priest could offer.  Indeed, through consultation it became evident that the call was probably a ruse to inveigle the priest in sexual perversion.  This abysmal situation – child abuse, sexual predation, and manipulation -- describes the vortex of sin from which God liberates humanity.

Israel’s liberation from bondage in Egypt, catalyzed by the dramatic event related in the reading from Exodus this evening, serves as a prototype for God’s liberation of humanity from sin.  The blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts of their houses saves the Israelites from the plague that forces the Egyptians to let them go free.  Similarly the blood of Christ saves Christians by forgiving their sins as the reading from First Corinthians signals.  But Christian liberation, of course, is by definition not a license to do what one wishes.  Just as Jesus in the gospel, Christians are freed from sin in order to serve one another in love.

The Holy Thursday liturgy packs together the great themes of the Paschal mystery.  These will be drawn out and meditated upon at length during the next three days.  Friday, in the reading of the passion according to John, Christ is presented as the liberating Lamb of God.  Saturday the story of human sin is delineated through a series of Old Testament readings.  Then the victory is proclaimed with the gospel of the Easter Vigil service and all the readings of Sunday’s masses.  We should note the seriousness of these liturgies.  They are hardly meant to be sanctimonious acts.  Rather, they re-create the events that have spared us of that vortex of sin.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday of Holy Week

(Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 26:14-25)

Humiliation seldom sinks lower than to be spit upon in the face.  Spittle may transmit infectious germs.  More than that, spitting is a universal sign of contempt.  The Book of Deuteronomy instructs a widow whose brother-in-law will not fulfill his obligation to marry her for the sake of his dead brother to “spit in his face” (Deut. 25:9).  The action is meant to show that the man is like selfish, low-lying scum. 

In the first reading today the Suffering Servant speaks of giving his face to be spit upon.  Conscious of how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of this servant, Matthew’s passion narrative underscores how both Jews and Romans spit upon him.  Although the gospel does not accuse Judas of spitting in Jesus’ face, it plainly shows that Judas’ behavior is tantamount to such disgrace.  He insults Jesus by calling him “Rabbi,” a title which Jesus expressly forbade his followers to use.  More gravely, he hands Jesus over to his enemies for silver. 

Jesus’ humiliation in Matthew’s passion narrative is part of the price that he pays for human disobedience.  Only perfect obedience could heal the fracture between God and humanity related in the story of Adam and Eve’s sin and reflected in our sins.  Jesus carries out God’s will – that he be handed over to his enemies -- which causes him to suffer extreme humiliation, intense pain, and finally brutal death.  For this sacrifice he deserves more than our thanks and admiration.  He merits our imitation and allegiance.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday of Holy Week

(Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-33.36-38)

Lists of Jesus’ disciples in the New Testament invariably name Peter at the head and Judas at the tail.  The reason for these placements is obvious: Peter acts as Jesus’ vicar while Judas betrays him.  Some believe that the two once vied for honor.  Judas, the treasurer of Jesus’ band, obviously merits some trust, and Peter always speaks for the group.  Today’s gospel, however, casts a murky hew on both.

Jesus predicts that both men will sin against him.  Although a few commentators equate their crimes, Judas’ is unquestionably more odious.  He turns Jesus over to his enemies with premeditation and for money.  In contrast, Peter denies Jesus out of spontaneous fear for his life.  But the difference between the two men is better perceived in their coming to awareness of their faults.  Crying in remorse, Peter will overcome his shame to rejoin Jesus’ discipleship.  Although Judas in different versions of the gospel also mourns his sin, he lacks the humility to acknowledge his sin before the community.

Peter’s example should inspire us all.  Possessive of a fallen nature, we will at times fail to clear the high bar Jesus has set.  But this fact does not exclude us of his friendship if we confess our failure and rejoin his following to try again.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday of Holy Week

(Isaiah 42:1-7; John 12:1-11)

People the world over – Protestants as well as Catholics and, no doubt, Jews, Muslims, even Communists – were amazed by the initial gestures of the new pope.  First, he takes the name of Francis recalling il poverello, the little poor man.  Then he appeared without the illustrious red cape reserved for the Bishop of Rome.  Furthermore, he told the rich of Argentina thinking of attending his inauguration that it would be better if they used the money for such a long trip for relief to the poor.  Pope Francis has evidently taken to heart what the evangelist John teaches in today’s gospel narrative.

Judas grumbles that the perfume which Mary uses to anoint Jesus’ feet could have been sold for the benefit of the poor.  He is not really concerned about the poor but about money. Mary, in fact, instinctively recognizes the truth of the situation.  Jesus, the Son of God, has made himself poor for the enrichment of the whole world.  Giving him due worship, we will turn to his impoverished brothers and sisters in love.

Who are the poor?  In a sense all humans qualify for the label because we are born without a firm relationship with God.  We must see Christ in one another without exception.  But there still are those who lack the physical resources to develop their human potential.  These deserve particular attention because in the hardships they experience, they will continually have difficulty giving praise to God.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday of the Fifth Week in Lent

(Jeremiah 20:10-13; John 10:31-42)

Among the gestures made in church we bow to the altar.  Some perhaps think that they are reverencing the tabernacle which is often placed behind the altar.  But the altar itself is a symbol of Jesus.  We bow to him.  The gospel today indicates the association.

The setting is the Jewish feast of the dedication of the temple altar.  Jesus has come to Jerusalem to celebrate.  In the ensuing discussion with the Jews, he says that God has consecrated him as well.  In fact, he will replace the temple altar as the locus of true worship.  His crucifixion becomes the only perfect sacrifice which redeems humanity.  It atones not just of individual sins but the multiplication of guilt through the ages.

The Jews understandably have difficulty accepting Jesus’ claims.  We, however, have the benefit of the testimony of his resurrection from his apostles and from saints throughout the ages who have dedicated their lives to him.  Following in their way we find that in joining him we do not give up our freedom but are freed from the attractions that undermine our desire for eternal life.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday of the Fifth Week in Lent

(Genesis 17:3-9; John 8:51-59)

It’s ten o’clock on Saturday morning, and your eldest son Bobby is bouncing down the stairs for breakfast.  He has slept through the promise he made his younger brother to take him to soccer practice.  You ask coolly, “Have you had enough sleep, Robert?”   Of course, you are not really concerned about his health.  Your ironic question intends to make your son aware that he has failed to do as he said.  The Gospel of John frequently uses irony in such a way.

It is ironic that the Jews in the gospel today say, “Abraham died as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’”  They lack understanding that Jesus is speaking of eternal life whose fullness comes with the resurrection at the end of time.

We need not be particularly hard on the Jews in the gospel for not appreciating eternal life.  Its significance escapes most of us.  It is not merely life without end.  Nor is it spiritual life as some envisage a colony of ghosts in heaven.  Eternal life is new, extraordinary, almost unimaginable.  At the same time, recalling glimpses of the resurrected Jesus, we can say that it is conscious, corporal, and joyous.  We might compare it to hearing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with a chorus 100,000 strong, but it is really beyond our comprehension.  We can only wait in hope to experience it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

(Daniel 3:14-20.91-92.95; John 8:31-42)

"There is not any reasoning which can convince me, contrary to my senses, that three is one, and one three," wrote Abigail Adams rejecting the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.  She was not a theologian but the upright, intelligent wife of the second president of the United States.  The same difficulty vexes anyone who relies on common sense.   It is why the Jews reject Jesus in the Gospel of John.

The Jews know where Jesus is leading them when he says in today’s gospel, “I tell what I have seen in the Father’s presence…”  Earlier in the gospel it was stated that they tried to kill Jesus because he “called God his own father, making himself equal to God.”  Being monotheists, as today’s first reading amply testifies, they will not tolerate any suggestion of two Gods.  Neither should Christians.

It is hardly imaginable, much less intuitive, how the Son and the Father are one God.  Virtually skipping logic, we call it “mystery” but hold to the concept firmly as the guarantor of our redemption.  Indeed, we posit a third figure of the one God, the Holy Spirit who completes the work of our salvation.  It is because Jesus is God that his death and resurrection have universal application.  It is because he is God with the Father that our deaths as well will blossom into resurrection. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(II Samuel 7:4-5a.12-14a.16; Romans 4:13.16-18.22; Matthew 1:16.18-21.24a)

The movie “Raggedy Man” tells about a disfigured war veteran who returns home to silently watch over his estranged wife and two sons.  The man, who abandoned his family several years before, eventually gives his life to protect it from intruders.  The story is reminiscent in ways of the gospel portrait of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph never utters a word in the two gospels where he has active roles.  Yet his contribution to the birth and upbringing of Jesus is palpable.  He gives Jesus the proper lineage of a Messiah.  Equally critical, he lives righteously carrying out the spirit of the law which, no doubt, gives example to the boy Jesus.  Prompted by the heavenly messenger, he takes the pregnant Mary into his home.  Moved again to save Jesus from the machinations of the evil Herod, he takes Mary and her son to Egypt.  It is assumed that through these trials and beyond he never has sexual intimacy with the Virgin Mother.

In our over-heated sexually and under-achieving morally society St. Joseph serves as model of goodness.  He reflects the truth that sex is not everything, but attending to a relationship with Jesus is.  Further, he inspires us to discern from our experiences as well as our dreams the vocation to which God is calling us.

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

(Daniel 13:1-9.15-17.19-30.33-62; John 8:12-20)

The Book of the Prophet Daniel was written in the second century before Christ although its context is sixth century Babylonia.  The author is critiquing his own times when Judaism, even in Palestine, was giving way to Greek culture.  The turnaround is portrayed as a social condition so perverse that judges give false testimony.  However, God comes to the people’s rescue through Daniel.  By saving a woman from the wicked judges’ lies, the young prophet restores virtue to the nation.

In Christians’ eyes Daniel prefigures Christ.  In yesterday’s gospel, which in two out of three years is read today, Jesus also saves a woman from stoning.  But today’s passage, which immediately follows yesterday’s in the gospel of John, likewise complements the narrative from Daniel by presenting Jesus as the light of the world.  He brings justice to the people by illuminating the road of righteousness.  Those who follow him live virtuously.  All other ways lead to perdition.

The last two weeks of Lent were traditionally called “Passiontide.”  We are coming close to fateful Jesus entry into Jerusalem.  We too must take sides.  Will we follow his light, or will trod darker paths?  Our destinies are at stake.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent

(Wisdom 2:1a.12-22; John 7:1-2.10.25-30)

Within a few hours after Pope Francis I was elected the other day, Wikipedia posted an article with the major facts of his life, including controversies.  The world hungers for information about the man in order to discern what kind of religious leader he will be.  But how can some facts reveal the dynamics of a mature person?  The situation is similar to what Jesus faces in today’s gospel.

The Jews question themselves on whether Jesus may be God’s Messiah.  They have heard of his mighty deeds.  But they have also received news that he is from Galilee, indeed from the insignificant town of Nazareth.  In their minds this latter fact excludes him from being considered as the Messiah.  For them it is as if he were not born within the United States yet was being considered a candidate for President.  But Jesus’ origin supersedes his earthly birth.  As the introduction to the Gospel of John specifies, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God and the Word (Jesus) was God.”

The point is at heart of our faith.  If Jesus were but an earthly messiah -- a righteous teacher, a martyr for justice – we might sift through his wisdom and actions for virtue to imitate.  But if he is from God, indeed if he is God, then he deserves our complete, implicit allegiance.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Lent

(Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47)

There is no end to people’s fascination with idols.  Tabloid newspapers and even more sophisticated media easily find consumers wanting to know more about LaBron James or Lindsay Lohan.  This fact is amusing but it is also disturbing.  Taken up with these false gods, the public misses the real God.  This is why Jesus sounds so frustrated in today’s gospel.

Jewish authorities are hassling Jesus for having cured a paralytic on the Sabbath.  Jesus has defended the action as a work of life that God continually performs every day of the week.  In today’s passage Jesus concludes the argument.  He says that if the authorities really understood the Scriptures, with which they are accusing Jesus of wrongdoing, they would recognize that they testify to his being from God, not against God.

Looking toward Holy Week, we need to reaffirm who it is that will command our attention.  It is no less than God’s eternal Son.  His actions -- and nothing we can produce nor knowledge we can have nor other person we can know -- will give us our heart’s deepest desire. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

(Isaiah 49:8-15; John 5:17-30)

In the first three gospels when Jesus is tried by the Jews, he is accused of calling himself the “son of God.”  In the long discourse from John’s gospel today, Jesus defends that position.  Differences between the so-called synoptic gospels and John are apparent to all readers, but quite typically careful readers will find that they give basically the same message.

Jesus defends his relationship of being God’s son in two ways.  First, he claims to do the work of the Father which is to give life.  We might keep in mind that sons through the ages -- and certainly in first century Palestine -- often took upon themselves the occupation of their fathers.  If their father was a carpenter, they would likely become carpenters.  Thus, being thought the son of Joseph, Jesus is alternately called the carpenter’s son and a carpenter.  In yesterday’s gospel Jesus did the work of God, his true father, by healing – a form of giving life which is God’s prerogative.  Second, Jesus does the work of God by judging, that is by vindicating the good.  He vindicates the good by giving life to those who believe in him.

Today’s gospel is prepping us to celebrate the Easter mysteries.  Then we will be challenged to believe the proclamation of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection from the dead.  Expressing faith by assenting to this proclamation and living accordingly, we will receive the eternal life they promise.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Lent

(Ezekiel 47:1-9.12; John 5:1-16)

Water has been long associated with healing.  Hindu pilgrims come in myriads to the Ganges River in hope of cures.  Western believers imbibe the spring waters at Lourdes praying for a miracle.  Natural baths the world over have devotees seeking their medicinal effects.

The reading from Ezekiel today manifests the healing power of the Jerusalem temple by describing it as the source of water.  The liquid begins as trickle emerging from its threshold and quickly grows in volume.  As it leaves the structure’s confines, it becomes a torrent that irrigates fruit trees providing both food and medicine.  In the gospel Jesus shows his ability to cure as ever more efficacious.  He instantaneously heals the sick man who lacks the wherewithal to plunge himself into the temple waters. 

We may see Jesus as a kind of river of plenty.  Like the Ganges, he heals us of infirmities.  Like the Nile in Egypt, he provides us the means for sustenance.  Like the Mississippi in the United States, he transports us home.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

(Isaiah 65:17-21; John 4: 43-54)

The third part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah was composed after the Exile.  For years the people of Jerusalem suffered in a foreign land.  Now they are back home although their trials have not ended.  The prophet says, in effect, “Enough is enough,” and foretells a time of plenty.  The passage should reflect our Lenten experience to date. 

We have passed the watershed on our Lenten journey.  Hopefully, we have been freed of the attachments to material goods that keep us from loving as we should.  Now we can focus on Jesus’ promise of eternal life.

The gospel manifests the promise’s fulfillment.  Jesus challenges the royal official to trust in him.  As soon as he does, his request for the cure of his son is granted.  The passage emphasizes, however, more than recovered health.  Three times it speaks of the boy living.  It adds that the official’s whole household, obviously including the son, comes to believe.  Their lives will endure death to experience unimaginable dimensions of life.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday of the Third Week in Lent

(Hosea 14:2-10; Mark 12:28-34)

Hosea is considered a “minor prophet” because his writings are not as extensive as Isaiah’s, Jeremiah’s, or Ezekiel’s.  Yet he writes with extraordinary simplicity and beauty.  His audience is the northern kingdom of Israel, sometimes called Ephraim or Samaria.  Blessed with abundance, Israel dabbles in idolatry which Hosea symbolizes by taking a harlot for a wife. 

In today’s passage Hosea pleads with Israel to repent.  The nation is not to trust any more in foreign alliances, much less in golden idols.  Rather it should walk the path of God’s righteousness and count on Him.  Jesus gives a parallel formulation for arriving in the kingdom of God in today’s gospel. 

We may practice similar infidelity.  If we idolize actors or athletes, giving them our attention and not the word of God, Hosea’s warnings are for us.  Similarly, if we confide in gossipers or slanders, we are guilty of untoward alliances which call for repentance.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Memorial of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs

(Jeremiah 7:23-28; Luke 11:14-23)

Today the Church celebrates two illustrious martyrs.  They are African women, Perpetua and Felicity.  Perpetua was a noblewoman who became a Christian.  Felicity was her slave.  During one of the periodic persecutions Perpetua’s father pleaded with her to be, as it were, politically correct and express fidelity to the gods of Rome.  She wouldn’t have had to renounce Christianity only to include the Roman gods in her prayers.  But she would have none of it.  Knowing that expressing dual loyalties in matters of faith is like living in a house divided, she persisted in her Christian belief and was summarily executed.

In today’s gospel Jesus presents what may be called the original “house divided speech.”  He tells his detractors that he cannot cast out demons and still be in Satan’s league.  Rather, his allegiance is to God the King who has empowered him to act in his name.

As Satan cannot rule if people are not aligned with him, we have to make sure that we stand with Jesus.  His humility and compassion move us away from the passing world of sin towards eternal life with God. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent

(Deuteronomy 4: 1.5-9; Matthew 5:17-19)

The elderly Jewish couple expressed dismay over the number of younger Jews who no longer practice their faith.  They themselves believed in the prophet Isaiah’s vision of the Jews being “light to the world” by living impeccable lives and pursuing justice.  They were expressing a hope similar to that which Jesus articulates for his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.

The gospel today goes right to the heart of that sermon.  Jesus has presented his vision of true happiness in the beatitudes and has pointed to his disciples as incorporating two universal human needs– light to find richness in life and salt to experience its goodness.  Now he states his intention before outlining his program.  He has come to do no less than fulfill the Word of God.  The Ten Commandments stand unimpeachable, but he will provide the grace to live them perfectly so that their adherents may enjoy the eternal life of God’s daughters and sons.

We sometimes talk of a New Law as if the Old Law were cancelled, but this is not Jesus’ intention.  The New Law, most accurately expressed, is not a substitute for the old but the grace of the Holy Spirit working within us to put it into practice.  The New Law in sum enables us to love one another as God loves us.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

(Daniel 3:25.34-43; Matthew 18:21-35)

A little girl comes home crying.  She says that she fell down and ruined her dress.  The mother takes her into her arms to console her.  She says, “I don’t care if you ruined a hundred dresses, just as long as you aren’t hurt.”  Such graciousness is what Jesus demands of his disciples in today’s gospel reading.

Peter comes to Jesus asking for a rule of thumb to determine how much patience is required with an offensive church member, a “brother.”  A situation can be readily imagined. A member of the community consistently comes late for services.  She says that she is sorry and promises to try harder to be on time.  But her tardiness is disruptive and the pastor wants to draw a line that might help her to fulfill her promise.  What would Jesus say?

Jesus tells us to forgive the truly repentant, no matter the number of times.  He exhorts long-suffering as a way of expressing love.  But he would also advise discerning the sincerity of the offender.  If she treats others with a similar magnanimity, pardon can be joyfully extended.  If she harshly judges the motives of others, the earnestness of her intention to reform is dubious. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

(II Kings 5:1-15ab; Luke 4:24-30)

In “Death of the Hired Hand” poet Robert Frost tells the story of a shiftless, old farmhand.  The character is an almost complete failure, but he has one remarkable quality – he knows how to pitch hay.  The poet explains how some people defeat their purpose by standing on the hay they mean to pitch.  The old farmhand, however, knows better.

Two characters in the first reading stand on, as it were, the hay they mean to pitch.  Both the king of Israel and Naaman, the Syrian general, make themselves obstacles to what they wish to accomplish.  They worry about not being able to do something when all that is necessary is that they trust in God.  One wants to shout at the first: “No, king of Israel, you are not a god with power over life and death.  Your God, however, has exactly that power.  Ask him to heal the leper.” And to the general: “No, Naaman, you cannot be cleansed in the waters of your own land.  Do what the prophet of God tells you, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”

Rather than put our trust in God we often fret over challenges confronting us.  We too need to be reminded that we are not gods, that our resources cannot resolve every problem.  We too must trust the God of Israel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He can and will save us when we turn first to Him for help.