2Kgs 5:1-15; Ps 42:2,3;43:3,4; Lk 4:24-30
Those, as desperate as a leper, know what it’s like to thirst for the living God. Commander Naaman was one such desperate man. He and the Widow of Zarephath, who had little food or water for hospitality, were athirst for the living God. These two foreigners came to know that the God of Israel is the One and Only, The God of our gladness and joy. One who has no face and cannot face the public can go and behold the face of God. One who hungers and thirsts unto death can long like a hind longs for the living waters. Indeed those most needy reveal that which unites all people of ever nation and every century. We cannot live without God. It is this thirst for God that defines our humanity. Human beings are those who long to behold the face of God. Human beings are those who thirst in the very soul for God, the living God. With today’s psalm we pray, “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place.” Notice the psalm asks the question “when”. When shall I behold His Face? This question presupposes that it’s not a matter of “if”. We know, we are sure; indeed, we have certitude that we will go to the altar of God, the God of my gladness and joy! It is this joy that reaches out from the future to grasp our hearts and lead us forward even in this present moment of longing and yearning.
Even at the time of Elisha there was very little faith among the great and important ones in Israel. The captive slave of Naaman, a young Israelite woman, had such great faith that she challenged her master to go and seek the healing power of the LORD from his prophet Elisha. This woman was among the poor and exiled woman of Israel, but in the court of the King of Israel, another reaction was heard. When The King of Israel read the letter from the King of Aram, he reacted with fear that this was a warning from an enemy who just wanted to start a war. He did not react with faith. He was not sure that Elisha was an authentic prophet of the LORD. He reacted with fear of the King of Aram; he did not trust the LORD, the true king of Israel. Naaman was skeptical when Elisha commanded him to wash seven times in the Jordan. This foreign commander had servants who loved him. They were able to challenge him, as did the Israelite girl. Naaman did as the LORD commanded him through the prophet and he was made clean; “his flesh became again like the flesh of a little child”. It was his faith that enabled him to wash in the river, and it was his faith that moved him to go back to Elisha and proclaim, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.” Long before the ministry of Christ our Lord this foreigner and enemy of Israel has such a great faith that he is healed and liberated from his leprosy. It takes this kind of great need, great humiliation, great longing for anyone of us to do as the LORD commands. Such obedience will only bear great blessing, new life, and abundant joy!
This too is the story of Lent, of every Lent. Like the people in the synagogue, we do not like to hear the truth. We often react with fury. When the prophet, the New Moses, Jesus of Nazareth spoke in his native place, they rose up and drove him out of the town. They wanted to hurl him down headlong over the cliff, but he passed through the midst of them. He walked away perhaps knocking the dust from his feet. What caused such a violent response? These Israelites in Nazareth did not want to be reminded of their past. They did not want to admit that rejection of prophets was a part of their heritage. What inflamed their anger even more was that the mighty signs of God’s love and care came to a foreign solider and widow. The Lord Jesus reminded them that the prophet Elisha did not seek out any lepers in Israel nor did Elijah seek out any widows. Though the country had plenty of both, they were not the subjects of God’s healing love. Instead, pagans were held up and healed. The Lord Jesus holds up this example of God’s boundless mercy and it hurts. It hurts perhaps because this is exactly what Israel has been called to do to introduce the entire world to the LORD God Almighty. By lives of faithfulness and kindness, they were to reveal that there is no God in the entire world except the LORD, the God of our joy and gladness. Why is there still division, war, prejudice, envy, lying, hate, lust, gluttony, and pride in our world? Sin is the answer. Our committing of evil deeds and our omission of good deeds has kept our world back from progress into the fullness of the Kingdom. When will we turn and be saved? When will we hear the truth and be liberated from the lie that our freedom is found in our right to choose whatever we want, whatever makes us happy? Indeed our only true freedom is to live and move and have our being in the heart of Christ our Lord and God. To do the Father’s will in the Name of His Son and in the Power of His Spirit is our only true delight and real freedom!