Sunday, March 15, 2009

Something Extraordinary

March 16, 2009

Monday of the Third Week in Lent

But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:13-14

And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Luke 4:24


Just and holy God, our loving Father, you offered us your hand in friendship and you sent us your Son Jesus to go with us the road of obedience and loyalty. God, we often hurt this friendship, we act as if we were not your sons and daughters. See the look of shame on our faces. Forgive us, for we count on you. Accept our thanks for continuing to take us as we are and loving us notwithstanding our sins. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen (Carmelite Order)


Following Christ is something we can do by ourselves. Naaman is a Cursillista in need of a friend. Fortunately, his servants were there to support him.

At first, Naaman does not follow the words of the prophet. He is about to ignore the advice that will cure him of his leprosy. He just did not think the instructions were “extraordinary” enough. This is a church which spends much of the year slogging through ordinary time. Sure we have Advent and Lent, Christmas and Easter. But for 34 weeks out of 52 weeks in the calendar, we are in plain old ordinary time. No burning bushes, no parting seas, no walking on water. Our time is marked by lesson upon lesson from an itinerant, Jewish carpenter to those who followed him around the desert two thousand years ago.

Fortunately, Naaman’s servants helped him and supported him to put aside his own pride and expectations and follow the instructions of Elisha.

Jesus, too, recognized that people tend to ignore the words and advice of those closest to them. He faced the wrath of the crowd who also did not think Jesus fulfilled their expectations of a prophet or the Son of God. Despite the many signs and miracles performed in their midst and the daily teaching in the temple, the people were destined to turn against the man from Nazareth.

There is another reason that the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus. When he presented the Nazareth Manifesto, scholars explain that he only quoted a part of Isaiah.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21

However, when we take a look back at the original passage in Isaiah, there is something Jesus left out.

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn. Isaiah 61:1-2

According to the Carmelite study of this passage, the people were surprised because Jesus omitted the phrase on vindication/vengeance. "They wanted the Good News of the liberation of the oppressed to be an action of vengeance on the part of God against the oppressors. In this case the coming of the Kingdom would be only a superficial change, and not a change or conversion of the system. Jesus does not accept this way of thinking. His experience of God the Father helps him to understand better the significance of the prophecies. He takes away the vengeance. The people of Nazareth do not accept that proposal and the authority of Jesus begins to diminish.”

The people of Nazareth wanted God to liberate them but they also wanted God to extract vengeance on the Romans and those who have oppressed them. But Jesus fulfills and lives this passage through love, not vengeance. Jesus was not living by the old rules. Even if that meant some (or most) people would reject him. He challenged them and us with something new. Something extraordinary indeed!


There are 24 women coming off the 128th Women’s Cursillo weekend in search of something extraordinary – our support and groups to continue the spark lit last weekend. Invite them in to your group reunion and parish ultreya so that they will be inspired to live lives marked by piety, study and action in their Fourth Day experience.

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