For October 6, 2016
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
your Son commanded us to love one another as he has loved us,
and he taught us that he loves us as you love him.
We ask you to send your Holy Spirit upon us as we read your word,
so that as we come to understand your love for us
we may better love you, and all you have created, in return.
St. Jerome: pray for us.
St. David: pray for us.
First Reading – 2 Kings 5:14-17
📕 The six books of 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and 1-2 Chronicles tell the history of the kingdom of Israel and its kings (11th to 6th centuries BC), from its beginnings under Saul, its flourishing under David and his son Solomon, and then its division into two kingdoms.
📖 Verse 14 begins with the word “So”. This implies that it follows something, and you need to read further back to know why Naaman is plunging himself into the Jordan. Verse 13 begins with “But”, which again implies that it follows something. Verse 12 is in the middle of a quote, and verse 11 begins with “But” again. Read verses 1-19 for the bigger picture.
🌎 Aram was a country to the west of the northern kingdom of Israel, where modern-day Syria is located. Some translations of the Bible use “Syria” for “Aram”.
🌎 Israel at this time was divided into a northern kingdom (called Israel) and a southern kingdom (Judah). The southern kingdom retained the original capital city of Jerusalem, which was home to the Temple of worship and sacrifice; the northern kingdom instead set up two cities of worship, in its southern and northern extremities, and was often chastised by prophets for abandoning true worship of God. At the time of 2 Kings 5, the capital was Samaria, a centrally located city.
🌎 The Jordan River was an important feature in Israel’s geography. The Jews crossed over it from the east into Israel, “the promised land,” after the decades-long exodus from Egypt. It was also the site where John the Baptist carried out his ministry of baptism.
👤 Naaman was not an Israelite, but an Aramean, and the commander of his king’s army, a man of great stature and wealth; he also suffered from a persistent skin disease (although not the same as modern leprosy). The Arameans had their own gods (see verse 18).
👤 Lepers were outcasts in Jewish society, because their illness (which is not the same as modern leprosy) could be contagious and even incurable. The Old Testament contains laws to keep lepers separate from healthy people, and descriptions of rituals concerning their re-admittance when they are found to be free from their disease by the priests, but there is no mention of how to cure leprosy. Less than a dozen people are identified as lepers in the Old Testament; Naaman is the only one whose cure is recorded. The king of Israel in 2 Kings 5:7 considers curing leprosy to be an act of divine intervention.
👤 Elisha was a prophet living in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the successor to the prophet Elijah. As a prophet, he received revelations from God which he was to pronounce to the people to whom God directed him: sometimes to Israel, and sometimes to other nations.
Gospel – Luke 17:11-19
📕 St. Luke was the author of both a gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke reports at the beginning of his gospel that many others had already compiled narratives of the life of Jesus, and that his is “an orderly account” intended to assure you (the reader) of the truth of the things you have heard. Both Luke and Acts are addressed to “Theophilus”, which may have been a person, but it may just be a generic term (because it is Greek for “lover of God”).
📖 Verse 11 begins with Jesus on the way to Jerusalem. Jesus has been preaching in villages in Galilee and Samaria, and is going south to Jerusalem for the final stage of his ministry.
📖 Jesus alluded to Naaman at the beginning of his ministry in Nazareth, that there were many lepers in Israel during Elisha’s time, but only a foreigner was cured (see Luke 4:27).
📖 Earlier in the gospels, Jesus cures a leper by touching him after the leper expresses his faith that Jesus can cure him simply by willing to do so. (see Luke 5:12-16)
📖 The Greek word used in verse 19 (“saved” or “made well”) comes from sozo, a different verb than “cleansed” or “healed” in the other verses. It means “to rescue, preserve, heal, save.”
🌎 By the time of Christ, the city of Samaria had been renamed Sebaste by Herod the Great. Instead, “Samaria” now generally referred to a region (see John 4:3-5) in between Judea to the south and Galilee to the north. These three provinces comprised the land of Palestine. Jerusalem was located in Judea; Nazareth, where Jesus lived with Mary and Joseph, was located in Galilee. Jews lived in Judea and Galilee, but Samaria was home to Samaritans, who worshipped the gods of five other nations in addition to the God of the Israelites.
🗣 What links can you find between the Old Testament and Gospel readings?
🗣 Why does Naaman at first refuse Elisha’s instructions?
💪 When are we like Naaman, trying to do things our way rather than God’s way?
🗣 How does Naaman’s healing change him,
and why does he ask Elisha for a pile of dirt (see 2 Kings 5:15-17)?
🗣 How does Elisha respond to Naaman’s difficult situation (see 2 Kings 5:18-19)?
🕊 What sacrament is foreshadowed by Naaman’s healing?
🕊 What is implied by the way the ten lepers address Jesus (see Luke 17:13)?
🗣 Why is it significant that the leper who returns to Jesus is a Samaritan?
💪 How does sin make us like the lepers in the Gospel?
🕊 How did the Samaritan’s healing change him? (Compare Luke 17:12 and 17:16.)
🗣 How does the Samaritan’s gratitude set him apart from the other cured lepers?
🗣 How does this encounter with a leper differ from an earlier one (see Luke 5:12-16)?
🗣 Who was responsible for Naaman’s cure? Who was responsible for cure of these lepers?
❤️ How does the time we spend in prayer asking God for something compare to the amount of time we spend in prayer of thanksgiving?
It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202), Fragments, 34
Have you ever done something for someone who did not thank you in return? How did you feel?
Have you ever been neglectful in thanking someone for a kindness they showed you?
🗣 What have I learned about who God is,
so that I can love Him better?
🕊 What have I learned about Christ,
so that I can recognize his love for me better?
💪 What have I learned about the Christian life,
so that I can show my love for God and neighbor better?
❤️ How can I incorporate into prayer what I have learned,
so that I can express my gratitude for God’s love?
help us to recognize our neighbors in need,
especially those whom the world treats at outsiders.
May their gratitude remind us to be grateful
for all the healing that you work in our lives.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.