Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We give thanks to God for your steadfast following of Oxygen.
As we enter into the Paschal Mystery of the Church, we invite our readers who want to help contribute a reflection to come forward.
The following readings are available for reflection:
1st Reading + Responsorial Psalm
2nd Reading + Responsorial Psalm
3rd Reading + Responsorial Psalm
4th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
5th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
6th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
Epistle + Responsorial Psalm
This is a good time for you to share with our readers the joys you have had in reading Oxygen. Do drop an email to email@example.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.
Oxygen Core Team
2 Kings 5:1-15
Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper. Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. ‘She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’ Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’ ‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’
When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’ But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage. But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean.”’ So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.
Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’
Jesus came to Nazara and spoke to the people in the synagogue: ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
“Bathe, and you will become clean”
When I was still employed in a bank some 10 years ago, I went on a retreat and received a message during one of my meditations that I was about to see some changes in my work life. Up till that point, I had been in sales, and had enjoyed the work I was engaged in.
Refreshed by the retreat, I came back to Singapore, not really expecting anything to pan out. On my first day back to work, a colleague came to me and congratulated me for having received a promotion. I was taken aback; surprised at how the Lord had spoken to me in such a powerful way.
Strangely, things started falling apart then — my promotion almost got reversed as work politics came into play. However, a very supportive manager came out with an alternative solution; something I felt was not ideal, but felt I was forced to take.
Six months later, it turned out that this alternative was even better, and I was promoted to take over my manager who had moved to another, more senior role within the bank.
My experience was a very powerful lesson in trusting God. Very often, we have our own ideas about how and what He should provide for us, and anything not matching our expectations would be deemed as failure.
In today’s first reading, Naaman, the army commander to the king of Aram, had approached Elisha for a cure for his leprosy. He was upset at Elisha’s suggested cure of bathing in the River Jordan seven times. In his mind, two other rivers in Damascus were ‘superior’ to Jordan. Because Elisha’s instructions ran contrary to his expectations, Naaman refused to accept his instructions and almost deprived himself of the cure that he was seeking.
Just like Naaman, we have our own thoughts about what God ‘should’ do for us. We become upset when things don’t come our way. I once heard Archbishop William God saying that God always answers our petitions — perhaps His answer is simply a “No”, or a “Not Yet”.
Let us learn to set aside our pride and our expectations and come to the realisation that our God is not there to be our ‘order-taker’. He is not there to simply be our ATM (automated teller machine) to dispense what we need. Our God is simply our God, and we need to learn to be humble and to walk in His ways as He guides us gently along.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may set aside our expectations and trust in You. Teach us to be willing to do Your bidding, faithfully and willingly.
Thanksgiving: Father, we are grateful for you holding our hands as we journey towards eternal life. Thank You for always being there for us, although we may not always be able to see You.