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Leap into God’s Mercy!

First Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-15AB

Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram,
was highly esteemed and respected by his master,
for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram.
But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.
Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel
a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.
“If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,”
she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman went and told his lord
just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said.
“Go,” said the king of Aram.
“I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”
So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents,
six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments.
To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read:
“With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you,
that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter,
the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed:
“Am I a god with power over life and death,
that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?
Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”
When Elisha, the man of God,
heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments,
he sent word to the king:
“Why have you torn your garments?
Let him come to me and find out
that there is a prophet in Israel.”

Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
The prophet sent him the message:
“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
“I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure the leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?”
With this, he turned about in anger and left.

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.

He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival he stood before him and said,
“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4

R. (see 42:3) Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.

Gospel: Luke 4:24-30

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
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.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

NAB

feb 29

Sometimes God doesn’t do things the way we want Him to do them. Sometimes we feel He doesn’t come on time or heal us or our friends in the ways that we want. He doesn’t answer our prayers exactly as we requested, and He doesn’t show up with the power and immediacy that we would like.

Namaan in today’s Old Testament reading definitely experienced this. He was a leper and at the recommendation of a little Israelite slave girl, he came to Israel in hopes of healing for his leprosy. However, Namaan is angry that the prophet Elisha gives him such disappointingly simple advice for his cure.

Similarly, the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth get angry because of Jesus’ words.  His fellow townsmen get so furious they kick Him out of the city, drive Him up a hill and plan to hurl him over and kill Him. They don’t like what Jesus says, and they don’t like God not doing what they think He should do.

God’s ways are not our ways. And we often don’t like that.

I know that deep inside I am often like Namaan or like those same people of Nazareth.  I try to be a good nice Christian and all, but if God is not bringing healing to me or people I know who are really seriously suffering, I too feel tempted to be angry and want to drive Jesus out of my life and maybe throw Him off from the high and mighty cliff of my pride. I don’t want to do the simple or routine thing God might be asking of me. In my opinion it would be better if, just like the people in today’s Gospel wanted, He would just heal all the lepers and comfort all the widows and end world hunger right now. But God’s ways are not our ways.

Today is Leap Day. We have an additional twenty-four hours as a completely gratuitous gift today. But it probably won’t turn out exactly as we want or expect. No day really does. But that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about taking a leap into God’s mercy in the simple or possibly big ways that He is calling us to follow Him in order to receive His healing and joy. Can you take a leap today in the simple and ordinary ways that He is offering you His grace and healing?

How is God calling you to take a leap today? Can you trust in His mercy even if it doesn’t end up how you might expect?

photo credit

Mary Catherine Craige is a lover of creativity and learning new things. When she is not guiding the development of young children through Montessori methods, you can find her behind her harp, taking an art class, or writing. You can find out more about her here.

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