Jesus consciously chose to walk through or venture into the dark bylines and even through the red streets. Remember the Shepherd going in search of the lost sheep. Thus his detour through the lepers’ hideout was conscious and planned. He might have known that he would get only one, the outsider, with gratitude; one out of ten is much better than the ‘one out of hundred who don’t need repentance’, and definitely Jesus would go in search of the one, who is so precious for him.

This adventure into the dark streets was in utter disregard to the ‘civil society’s’ specific prohibitions, centuries old customs and practices and giving the least thought for hygiene and the possibility of contamination, even making the disciples at risk. That is Jesus, and that is the way he paved for his followers, to venture into new ways, through the forbidden paths and to look for the lost, the estranged, the entangled, the straying and even the rebellious. All these need to be brought back to the fold. To be a disciple of Jesus and for being employed in his mission there is need of being knocked down from the lofty mansions of our pride and prejudices, our sense of being the entitled ones, being the heirs, from the positions of unlimited welfare and wellness, the non-negotiable life-style and so on.

Our sense of being on a mission has to be kept alive and functional. In the 2 Book of Kings today, Naaman is being knocked down from his lofty mansions and flushed out of the expensive swimming pools to the lowliness of the Jordanian water to be healed and thereby cleansed of his pride. By this act of obedience and humility he stumbled upon his God, the true and living God! In his reborn humility Naaman begs for two mule-loads of earth from Israel, the land of God’s people, in order to carry to his mansion and spread it over there that he may step on this earth to pray to the true God.

For the sake of the same God St. Paul willingly accepts chains and imprisonment like a criminal where even he proclaims the Word, which cannot be chained anymore! We too are called to the same mission of Jesus who ventures to the unexpected, prohibited and unorthodox bylines. We too have the same prescription as Naaman has today from the Prophet. We have the same vocation Paul has today to be in chains, if need be, and let the Word of God be proclaimed even from prison cells.

Fr. George