3rd Week of Lent, Monday, Mar 16th

2 Kings 5:1-15 / Luke 4:24-30

Elisha tells Naaman to wash: Naaman expected something harder.

James Michener’s book The Source has a section that treats a time period that parallels the Old Testament era. One episode of that section deals with people in a place called Makor. They have just adopted a new god called Melak, who demands human sacrifice.
Michener writes: “[The people adopted their new god] partly because his demands upon them were severe ... and partly because they had grown somewhat contemptuous of their local gods precisely because they were not demanding.” Some people think modern Christianity has been watered down and is no longer demanding or challenging.
How do we feel about this? Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, take up his cross every day, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
One of our instinctive reactions to something unpleasant or threatening is anger. Anger is a defensive response to something that we don't know how to handle or something that puts us into trouble.

In today's two readings, we see anger exploding in tensed situations. In the 1st reading, the king of Israel blew up in anger when he received that letter from the king of Aram so much so that he tore his robes.

That was because he was asked to do something for Naaman to cure him of his leprosy and that left him fuming.
But later on it was Naaman who was fuming when he was asked by Elisha's servant to bathe seven times in the Jordan.

Yes, anger is the reaction when our security and comfort is threatened. Yet, more often than not it is people in authority and with some power who will flare up in anger.

Yet, in the heat of the anger of the king of Israel and also of Naaman, it was the lowly servants who eventually pacified them and helped them see things in perspective.

Let us pray that we too will be like those humble and lowly servants who will bring peace to tensed situations and calm the anger of people with the love of God.

And may God also send us humble and lowly persons to us when we lose our cool so that we can see things in perspective.

Monday of 3rd Week of Lent - LITURGY

Today’s liturgy thinks especially of converts who are baptized and immersed into the baptismal water. Are conversion and missionary action still valid? Why be concerned about unknown, distant peoples? – Elisha cured the pagan officer from Damascus, Syria, and the man found both healing and faith. Jesus, not accepted as a prophet in his own town, says that salvation will be offered to pagans. That doesn't mean that the missionary will not be always understood and welcomed in the missions... 

Penitential Rite:
-As we accept, like Naaman, the leprosies of our own sinfulness, LHM
-As we seek help for healing even through seemingly insignificant people, CHM
-As we obey and follow the rituals and ceremonies of sacraments and celebrations of the Church, LHM

Opening Prayer 
Lord God, our Father, you want all people to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, your Son. May Christians not practice spiritual selfishness and clannishness but may their faith mean so much to them that they want to share it with others, that your Son may be known and loved everywhere, for he is the Lord of all for ever.

It all seemed just too ordinary. Naaman, an army commander in a neighboring country, is a respected military leader but suffers from some form of leprosy. One of his servant girls suggests that he visit the prophet Elisha in Israel. Naaman decides to act on the proposal, but, following the proper protocol, he first presents himself to the king of Israel, with the proper letters from his own king. The king of Israel is distraught with the request that is made. He has no interest in finding a prophet healer. Elisha the prophet hears about the case and asks the king to send Naaman to him. Elisha then directs Naaman to go to the Jordan and wash himself seven times. But the Jordan waters are insignificant in comparison with the rivers of Syria, Naaman’s home country. He is not going to follow the directive until his servants urge him to give it a try. He does so, is immediately healed, and returns home a convinced believer in the God of Israel. Faced with the continued obstinacy of his opponents, Jesus drawn on the Naaman story to highlight the openness of foreigners to God’s action while Israelites were frequently left behind because of intransigence and hardness of heart. Naaman was dubious but remained open to what was asked of him. Perhaps many of us are slow to see the hand of God in the ordinary events of life. A person who had lived a life far from God is at some point drawn to God by conversion of heart. Or a quiet unassuming pastor becomes God’s instrument in bringing a hardened sinner back to Christ. It may be that at times we stand too close to an event to see God’s hand. We would do well to be spiritually attentive. Miracles may not appear with undue frequency—but they do appear. 

Points to Ponder 
The presence of God in daily events Conversion: a moment of God’s grace Being alive to the sacred in life 

 – For those who are preparing for baptism, that the Word of God may become their guide in life and that baptism may renew them, we pray:
– For the Christian community, that they may prepare a hearty welcome and support for the newly baptized, we pray:
– For those who have joined us in the faith, that they may experience us as joyful, redeemed people who know how to love and to serve, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord, our God, may we have enough faith to welcome your Son among us in these simple signs of bread and wine. May we and people everywhere accept that you come to us all with a human approach through the humanity of Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord, our God, Father of all people everywhere, strengthen with your word and your body and blood all those who have left their country and culture to bring your Good News to different countries and other cultures. May they humbly serve their new people, receive their love and gifts of mind and heart, and help the local Church to grow in Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.

We should also think during Lent the converts who will be accepted into the Church through baptism, the great Lenten sacrament. It is not merely that individuals join us in the Church, but that the community of the Church must be ready to receive these people and to make them feel at home. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.