Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Israel and Syria (which is north of Israel and Jordan) have been fighting with each other for centuries. Today’s first reading takes us back to 850 BC. They were at war then. At times Syria was called Aram. Our reading is about an Aramean army general named Naaman. He had the dreaded disease of leprosy. His wife had an Israelite girl who was her slave. This slave was most probably captured in battle. She told her master, Naaman, about a prophet in Israel who would be able to cure his disease. The prophet was Elisha.
It must have taken a lot of humility and faith for this proud Aramean general to go into enemy territory (Israel) to look for Elisha. When he located him, Elisha wouldn’t even give Naaman the courtesy of coming out of his cave or hut to meet with him. He just told him through a messenger to go and bathe in the Jordan River seven times. This, too, was offensive as Naaman considered the rivers in his own country far superior to the Jordan.
Naaman was insulted and decided to go back home, but his friends persuaded him to do as the prophet said. Thus our first reading begins. The reading prepares us for the gospel when we hear about Jesus healing 10 people who had leprosy, and how only one of them, a foreigner (a Samaritan), came back to thank him. The stranger puts the Jews to shame. His reaction anticipates the glad receptions of the Good News by the Samaritans in Acts 8:1-25.
Peace and Everything good!
Fr. Valery Burusu