Monday of the Third Week in Lent
(II Kings 5:1-15ab; Luke 4:24-30)
The first two and a half weeks of Lent deal with penance to make up for our sins. We emphasized the need for prayer, fasting, and works of charity to overcome our egotistical desires. The third week of Lent opens another perspective. Now we have to ask ourselves if we are giving proper testimony to Jesus. Today’s readings confirm Jesus as a prophet. Do we see him in that way?
Naaman almost missed his opportunity for being cured of leprosy. He wanted to dismiss the advice of the prophet Elisha who told him to just wash in the Jordan River. Fortunately, his servants were able to convince him that he had little to lose by complying with the prophet’s order. In the gospel passage the people of Nazareth do not have such good advice available. They reject Jesus’ claim of being appointed by God to bring comfort to the oppressed. Indeed, they are about to kill him for claiming to be a prophet.
Placing faith in Jesus is a risky venture. We may not lose our lives or our fortunes, just the consideration of being “one of the guys.” Accepting Jesus as a prophet means to stand with him by visiting the sick or greeting a child with a severe deformity. It may also mean objecting to a slander that someone makes or questioning the standing opinion that is based on hearsay. Former Vice-President Joe Biden speaks favorably of rival Jesse Helms when both men were in the Senate. He says that they were able to accomplish much for their country because they refused to denigrate each other as some of their political allies would have had them do.