Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection March 04, 2024


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R/. My soul is thirsting for God, the living God. When can I enter and appear before the face of God?

V/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

V/. I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him; Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

At that time: When Jesus had come to Nazareth, he said to the people in the synagogue, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.

1.      In today’s word of God, the central theme is faith. The faith of a certain Naaman, a Syrian army chief with leprosy brings him healing through the prophet Elisha. In contrast, the lack of faith of the chosen Jews of Jesus’ time brings them God’s judgment

2.        The contrast is striking: Naaman listens even to the advice of his servant girl to approach Elisha for his healing; but the Jews would not listen even to Jesus, the Son of God himself who invites them for inner healing. Naaman goes all the way to meet Elisha. Jesus comes all the way from heaven to meet his people.

3.       At Elisha’s direction, Naaman dips himself seven times in the waters of Jordan and gets completely healed. He becomes a new man. It was not the waters that restored health to him. But it was the power of God through Elisha. And Naaman’s humble faith became an opening to receive this grace

4.       The people of Jesus too were dipped in Jordan in Baptism. But they did not become new. Their self-righteous unfaith closed them to reject God’s grace through Jesus. The miracle leads the pagan Naaman to faith in Yahweh and he confesses, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel”. On the contrary, numerous miracles by Jesus would not strengthen the faith of Jesus’ people

5.       Jesus tries to make the people aware of this contrast so that they would repent and return to God in faith. In fact, God enters into human lives so as to raise them up to heaven and to eternal life.

6.       But they become all the more stubborn and hostile; they drive him out and try to kill him, by throwing him down the cliff.

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