"Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." Lk 4:27It is sometimes difficult to acknowledge that Jesus was not beyond agitating his adversaries. Although it was typical for Rabbi's to challenge one another at the time of Jesus, we are not always prepared for this kind of debate. Nevertheless, when Jesus confronts his listeners with evidence of their refusal to listen deeply to the Torah, it unsettles them and us.
The story of Naaman would have been very familiar to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but they surely would not have expected Jesus to use it against them and to ratify his own authority. That Naaman, the Syrian and outsider, was cured by plunging seven times into the Jordan river was evidence that anyone who accepted the authority of God and the Law, not just Jews, could be cured. Jesus insists that he is a prophet like Elisha who is unafraid to offer healing to anyone who listens to his word. There are no limits to God's love and the Lord never fails to remind us of this.
Jesus continues to invite all people to embrace faith and to live its freedom, and it is the task of the church to proclaim this truth and evangelize the whole world. More important, when Christians listen to and live the Gospel selectively, they risk the same condemnation heaped upon the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day. It is not for us to say who can be saved. Rather, we must announce Good News, like Elisha and Jesus, to anyone willing to listen.
Today, ask the Lord to stretch your hearts to see all people as he sees them.
What do you think we sometimes want narrow borders within which to think and live?