Daily Bible Reading - March 4, 2024

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Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc.

3RD WEEK OF LENT

Psalter: Week 3 / (Violet)

St. Casimir

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 42: 2, 3; 43: 3, 4: Athirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?

1st Reading: 2 Kings 5: 1-15b

Naaman was the army commander of the king of Aram. This man was highly regarded and enjoyed the king’s favor, for Yahweh had helped him lead the army of the Arameans to victory. But this valiant man was sick with leprosy.

One day some Aramean soldiers raided the land of Israel and took a young girl captive who became a servant to the wife of Naaman. She said to her mistress, “If my master would only present himself to the prophet in Samaria, he would surely cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to tell the king what the young Israelite maidservant had said. The king of Aram said to him, “Go to the prophet, and I shall also send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So Naaman went and took with him ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces and ten festal garments. On his arrival, he delivered the letter to the king of Israel. It said, “I present my servant Naaman to you that you may heal him of his leprosy.

When the king read the letter, he tore his clothes to show his indignation, “I am not God to give life or death. And the king of Aram sends me this man to be healed! You see, he is just looking for an excuse for war.”

Elisha, the man of God, came to know that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, so he sent this message to him: “Why have you torn your clothes? Let the man come to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and stopped before the house of Elisha. Elisha then sent a messenger to tell him, “Go to the river Jordan and wash seven times, and your flesh shall be as it was before, and you shall be cleansed.”

Naaman was angry, so he went away. He thought: “On my arrival, he should have personally come out, and then paused and called on the name of Yahweh, his God. And he should have touched with his hand the infected part, and I would have been healed. Are the rivers of Damascus, Abana and Pharpar not better than all the rivers of the land of Israel? Could I not wash there to be healed?”

His servants approached him and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had ordered you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? But how much easier when he said: ‘Take a bath and you will be cleansed.’”

So Naaman went down to the Jordan where he washed himself seven times as Elisha had ordered. His skin became soft like that of a child and he was cleansed.

Then Naaman returned to the man of God with all his men. He entered and said to him, “Now I know that there is no other God anywhere in the world but in Israel.

Gospel: Luke 4: 24-30

Jesus added, “No prophet is honored in his own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land.

Yet, Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet; and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.”

On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw him down the cliff. But he passed through their midst and went his way.

REFLECTION:

“Cult of separation.”

Jesus came to bring salvation which is for all. However, there is a strong tendency even among Jesus’ followers to appropriate salvation for themselves. This is the danger of the so-called cult of separation. This is the danger of the so-called cult of separation, which generates an understanding of salvation that is exclusive and which is limited to only a chosen few.

Today’s Gospel narrates Jesus reminding the people of the two prophets: Elijah and Elisha. Jesus emphasized the association of these two prophets to people outside the territory of ancient Israel; namely, the woman of Zarephath in Sidon and Naaman from Syria.

The people became angry against Jesus because he reminded them that God’s salvation, mediated by Elijah and Elisha, had crossed the borders of Israel. Furthermore, Jesus seemed to emphasize that God saved the strangers rather than their own ancestors in the respective times of the abovementioned prophets.

The point is that God’s salvific act knows no boundaries.

As Christians, there are times when we are tempted to believe that we are the ones favored by God and that others are condemned because they neither belong to our group nor share our belief system.

It is time to open our hearts to see that God’s salvation is all-encompassing.

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