Monday March 4, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Lent
Reading (2 Kings 5:1-15ab) Gospel (St. Luke 4:24-30)
We hear this reading from the Second Book of Kings about Namaan the Syrian. There are a couple of things in here that we need to recognize. First of all, Naaman comes to the king of Israel with this letter asking that he would be healed. The king of Israel tears his garments and says, "You can tell that the king of Syria only wants to cause problems with me." In other words, rather than being able to say, "I can't heal you, but there is a prophet here who can. Why donít you go to Elisha?" instead, he does not even think about God. And that was exactly the problem. That is why they were having the trouble at the time that they were: they did not turn to God; they did not think about Him; they had completely abandoned the practice of the faith. And so, when something like this would happen - this little slave girl says, "You should go to the prophet in Israel. He would be able to heal you" - they have nothing to offer when he comes because they do not even think about it.
But then the man does go to the prophet, and when he is told what to do he refuses because of his pride. It is no different from us. I think what we need to listen to is the counsel that his slaves give him. They tell him, "If the prophet would have told you to do something extraordinary, you would have done it. All the more reason, then, when he has asked you to do something simple." When we think about what God asks of us, it usually is not all that extraordinary. God asks of us ordinary things. He wants us to have extraordinary holiness, but in our ordinary lives. And because what we look at is just day-to-day ordinary things, we just kind of give up after a while; we do not pay a whole lot of attention. We become like the people of Israel, like the king who tore his garments and did not think of God.
So too, when Jesus goes into the synagogue at Nazareth, they are looking for something extraordinary. They could not understand this Man. They did not believe in Him; they just wanted to see something for themselves. Jesus said, "It's not going to happen." And unfortunately, then, we need to look at ourselves in the same situation and say: How many times do we come to the Lord and we really do not believe? When He tries to do things in our lives, we reject them because it is not the way we expected it was going to be. We think that if He would do something extraordinary then we would believe. But God, in His mercy, asks us to do ordinary things. And because we are asked to do these ordinary things, we totally miss the fact that it is the Will of God for us.
We need to learn that God's Will is ordinary. On occasion, He asks something extraordinary or does something extraordinary, but that is the exception not the rule. For most of us, it is to live our daily lives in an ordinary way. And by so doing, with great love, we will become saints. But it is to be able to see in those ordinary things the Will of God and to be able to understand that we would have done something extraordinary if we would have known that was God's Will. How much more, when we know that it is God's Will that we would simply be obedient to the duties of our state in life and do the simple, ordinary things that we are asked to do. How much more should we be willing to do that because God, in His mercy, is not asking us to do something extraordinary. He is simply asking you to be obedient. It is more difficult to see God's Will in that because there are not fireworks and all kinds of fancy things. But it is precisely by growing in love and doing the duties of our daily lives that each one of us will become saints. We must not be like Naaman, in his initial response, and become proud and arrogant, thinking that we know a better way. We need, instead, to look to the Lord, seek His Will, and then, with simplicity of heart, to do it - the ordinary things with extraordinary love.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.