Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

When we hear this Gospel lesson, I’m sure all of us immediately ask ourselves, “Am I like those nine? Most of the time, do I forget to thank God? Always asking God, but not thanking God?” That’s an important part of the message of this morning’s Scriptures. But if we listen really deeply to all three of our lessons today, there’s an even more profound understanding about God that we will come to, and about Jesus.

We have to go back to the first lesson to begin to put all of this into context. The incident in the first lesson is unusual. This pagan from outside is finally convinced that the Hebrew prophet Elisha might have something worthwhile to provide for him, and after going back and forth in conversation, he finally agrees, yes, he will go wash in the Jordan River, although, as he says, “There are many rivers in Syria where I can go and wash. Why bother with this tiny river here?” But he does it finally, and he is cleansed.

Then he goes back to the prophet, and he cries out to him, “Now I know there is no other God anywhere in the world, but in Israel!” He recognizes the God of the chosen people as the God of all; and then he does something strange. He says to Elisha, “Let me take two bags of soil, enough that a mule could carry, back to my own land.”

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