28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this
discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that
1st Reading - 2 Kings 5:14-17
The books of Kings chronicle the period of time between roughly 970
B.C. through 587 B.C.; the reign of Solomon, through the division of
the kingdom into Judah and Israel, and then the Babylonian occupation
and the destruction of the temple and the exile of the people of God.
1st and 2nd Kings in fact form one continuous work with the division
arbitrarily disrupting the account of the reign of Ahaziah of Israel.
Although it spans almost 400 years in a chronological manner, it is not
a work of political or social history, but one of theological history.
It recounts from a consistent theological point of view, Israel’s
life in its own land from the end of David’s reign to the
Babylonian exile. It is less interested in accurately chronicling
events, no matter how important they may seem to the modern historian,
than in explaining the tragic fate of Yahweh’s people. The
sources used by the sacred author are many and varied, ranging from
popular tales (1 Kings 3:16-27) and miracle stories (2 Kings 2) to
archival records (1 Kings 4:7-19). In Kings, the sacred author
repeatedly refers the reader to three sources by name for further
information: The Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), The Chronicles
of the Kings of Judah (1 Kings 14:29), and The Chronicles of the Kings
of Israel (1 Kings 14:19). Unfortunately, all three are now lost,
although references to them are in 40 verses of Holy Scripture.
Today’s reading takes place sometime around 850 B.C. when Elisha
is the prophet and describes Elisha as the master of leprosy. Naaman,
king of Damascus and captain of the army of the King of Syria, has
contracted leprosy. Some time earlier, his army had taken a young
Israelite girl as captive and she is now Naaman’s wife’s
servant. This girl advises her mistress to have Naaman go to see the
prophet in Samaria (Elisha) for a cure. Naaman got permission from his
king and a letter of introduction to the King of Israel, and departed
taking with him ten talents of silver (about 750 pounds), 6000 shekels
of gold (about 150 pounds) and ten sets of clothes. The letter of
introduction read “I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that
you may cure him of leprosy.” Upon reading the letter, the
Israelite king became very upset because he thought the Syrian king was
trying to pick a quarrel with him by giving him an impossible task
– one only God could perform. Upon hearing of the king’s
distress, Elisha sent him a note to have Naaman “come to him so
he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” Upon meeting Elisha,
Naaman is told to go wash himself seven times in the Jordan and he will
be cured. Naaman went away angry. He had expected to have the prophet
invoke the name of God, wave his hand over the affected area, and he
would be cured. Instead, he is told to wash in a dirty river –
surely the rivers of Damascus are cleaner. Naaman’s servants
however convinced him to try the cure; after all, if the prophet had
told him to do some great thing he would have done it.
14 So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God.
Seven is the number of the covenant. A complete washing.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was
clean. 15 He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his
arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know
Before this event, he had doubted – to the point of beginning to return to the land of Damascus.
that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.
The dirty waters of Israel have effected a cure.
Please accept a gift from your servant.”
Presumably the gold and silver (about $750,000 worth at today’s prices)
16 “As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not
take it,” Elisha replied; and despite Naaman’s urging, he
Acceptance would suggest that it was Elisha’s own powers that had effected the cure.
17 Naaman said: “If you will not accept, please
let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth, for I will no
longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the
Naaman states a common ancient conception that linked and limited a
deity to some particular territory (see Psalm 137:4). If Naaman is to
worship Yahweh in Damascus, he must take some of Yahweh’s domain
with him, hence the two mule-loads of earth. This way, he can build his
altar on Yahweh’s domain when he worships the true God in
Damascus, his home city.
2nd Reading - 2 Timothy 2:8-13
As we continue with our study of 2nd Timothy, we find Saint Paul
describing the sufferings of the Christian apostle and the hope that he
8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
Emphasizes the messianic kingship of Jesus
such is my gospel,
The good news. By His victory over death He has shown Himself to be the Son of God (see Romans 1:4).
9 for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.
Because there are other preachers. Also, Paul has been able to spread the word even as a prisoner.
“But now God has made us such that nothing can subdue us. Our
hands are bound but not our tongue, since nothing can bind the tongue
but cowardice and unbelief. Where these are not, though you fasten
chains upon us, the preaching of the gospel is not bound.” [Saint
John Chrysostom (between A.D. 393-397), Homilies on the Second Epistle
to Timothy 4]
10 Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,
His sufferings are of value for those chosen for Christianity, both those already Christians and those not yet converted.
so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,
together with eternal glory. 11 This saying is trustworthy:
The saying is sure. Paul draws attention to the fundamental truth.
If we have died with him we shall also live with him;
Refers back to verse 8. When Paul speaks of dying with Christ and
rising with Him, he has in mind not only the mystical death and
resurrection of baptism, but also the development of this experience in
the Christian life, with special emphasis on the physical sufferings
and dangers of the apostolate, the final stage of this assimilation
with Christ taking place at the parousia.
“The Savior, too, first granted you this very thing – that
you should fall. You were a Gentile. Let the Gentile in you fall. You
loved prostitutes. Let the lover of prostitutes in you perish first.
You were a sinner. Let the sinner in you fall. Then you can rise again
and say, ‘If we have died with Him, we shall also live with
Him,’ and, ‘If we have been made like Him in death, we
shall also be like Him in resurrection.” [Origen (after A.D.
233), Homilies on Luke 17,3]
12 if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him
Such a denial would mean infidelity to Christ.
he will deny us.
Christ’s denial would be a refusal to recognize a man at the judgment as one of His followers.
13 If we are unfaithful he remains faithful,
Either to His promise to punish or to His promise to show love and mercy
for he cannot deny himself.
He is unchangeable in His very nature.
Gospel - Luke 17:11-19
Our gospel reading this week takes over where our reading left off last
week. Last week we heard of the inward renewal of disciples. Today we
begin the conclusion of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
11 As he [Jesus] continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled
through Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten
lepers met (him).
Persons with skin diseases were not clean or holy and were isolated.
They could not go to synagogue or Temple. Anyone who touched an unclean
person became unclean themselves. These ten are separated from
everything – including their kinsmen.
They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice,
Being careful to avoid making someone unclean, they stay away. Misery
so loves company that this group consists of both Jews and one
Samaritan (with whom Jews normally did not deal).
saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he
saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”
In compliance with Mosaic law (see Leviticus 14:1-32). The Samaritan
most probably would have gone to his own priests at Mt. Gerizim.
As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned,
Naaman (a foreigner in Israel) also returned to Elisha in our 1st reading today.
glorifying God in a loud voice;
He gave glory to God by proclaiming God’s redemptive acts. Not necessarily praising Jesus, but God who sent Him.
16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a
Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they
not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned
to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up
and go; your faith has saved you.”
Not salvation by faith alone, the Samaritan had to act on that faith
and ask for healing. Jesus has restored him to his community and family
– he is no longer an outcast. In Jesus, His disciples (us) find
the fullness of human wholeness.
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org