ANOINTED FOR MERCY
In today’s Gospel, we hear that the Hebrews became furious with Jesus, but it is not for the reason most people think. They became furious because of the examples that Jesus used to explain that God’s offer of salvation through the prophet Jesus was not restricted to them. They are not the people who can claim special treatment over and above everyone else.
The widow Zaraphath in the land of Sidon who fed and protected Elijah. Rather than send one of the 7000 widows, God sent a Gentile who was outside of Israel’s borders. The fact that she came from Sidon was even more insulting to the Hebrews for this was the centre of Baal worship.
Then we have Naaman, the Syrian, who was a great military commander during the time of Elisha. However, he was prideful, stubborn and plagued with leprosy. He believed that Elisha, who was a simple man to any outsider, should serve and heal him because of his status, and his pride almost cost him his life had it not been for a young servant girl who convinced him to humble himself.
Naaman was saved because of his humility – because he chose to believe in the healing power of a simple man.
The stories of Zaraphath and Naaman would have been well known to the Hebrews and so when Jesus uses them as a response to their questions about Jesus’ authority and ability, Jesus was making a strong statement about God’s plan for salvation.
CLICK HERE for the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Psalm 71; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30)