In today’s first reading from 2 Kings 5:1-15, we see the story of Naaman the Syrian. Naaman was a high ranking military official in Syria, but not an Israelite. He was also a leper. The prophet Elisha gave him instructions on how to cleanse himself of his leprosy. Reluctantly, he listened to the words of the prophet and was cleansed. Upon his healing, he proclaimed the God of Israel the one, true God.
Then in our Gospel reading (Luke 4:24-30) Jesus brings up the fact that, during the time of Elisha, the only leper cleansed was Naaman the Syrian, an “outsider.” This ticked off the people in the synagogue, and they set out to kill Jesus. But “he passed through the midst of them and went away.”
What may have set the people off was Jesus intimating that God would bestow favor on someone who was “not one of us,” while forsaking His people. But Jesus was simply stating the facts. It reminds me of how, far too often, we think of Christianity as a “club.” And a very exclusive club at that. Unless someone is “one of us,” we don’t want to give them the time of day. To gain entrance to our little club, they have to dress the way we do, speak our language (Christanese and Catholicese) and, of course, think the way we do. If they don’t meet these requirements, then they remain “one of them.” How Jesus turned this notion on its head! It is not for us to say on whom God will bestow His favor. Last I checked, He even loves people who are “not one of us!” The question is….can we?
Father, we’re so sorry for those times that we try to make Your love exclusive of others. When we think you couldn’t possibly love someone who isn’t “one of us.” Help us to realize that Your love transcends everything, even our feeble little prejudices. Amen.
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