Monday of the Third Week of Lent
II Kings 5:1-15; Luke 4:24-30)
People think of prophets as either soothsayers or rabble-rousers. That is, they understand a prophet as one who foretells the future or one who raises consternation with righteous criticism. It is true that the prophets of Israel at times performed these services. But prophets were also teachers of the word of God. They especially excelled at applying the word to concrete situations. Today’s readings feature two prophets of Israel.
Elisha is successor of the primordial prophet Elijah. He is considered holy and, for that reason, able to heal. He inspires the trust – albeit reluctantly – of the non-Israelite Naaman. Naaman obeys the man of God and finally praises God outright. Jesus refers to Elisha and Naaman in his dispute with his townspeople. He argues that as God chose to cure a non-Israelite through Elisha, He will save non-Nazarenes through Jesus. Jesus is driving home the point that no one can make a claim on God. Humans are to love Him and obey Him.
To be sure, it is difficult to love and obey God. Our generation feels the need to convince itself of God’s existence. Prayer – communication with God -- is short-circuited by all the technological devices that jump to our command. However, striving to know and love the Lord has inestimable value, greater by far than a sense of control. Peace fills our hearts. We appreciate everyone and, indeed, everything more. Then there is the indescribable gift of eternal life.