Monday of the Third Week of Lent
And Elisha sent a messenger to [Naaman], saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” (2 Kings 5:10, RSV)
A reading from On the Second Book of Kings by St. Ephrem the Syrian: “It was necessary that Naaman, in order to be purified from two diseases, that of the soul and that of the body, might represent in his own person the purification of all the nations through the bath of regeneration, whose beginning was in the river Jordan, the mother and originator of baptism.”1
The Second Book of Kings is the last installment in the series on the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. Elisha was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel. Naaman, a respected army commander of the king of Aram (aka Syria), heard about Elisha through a little Israelite girl he had captured on one of his campaigns. He came to him out of hope to be healed of his leprosy.
St. Ephrem, a Syrian himself and one of the Fathers of the Church, sees the prefigurement of baptism in this episode between Elisha and Naaman. The two diseases he mentions are that of leprosy and that of sin. Just as Naaman’s leprosy was cleansed in the river Jordan, so sin is washed away in the waters of baptism. Moreover, he declares that Naaman, a non-Israelite, represents all the nations which are called to be purified through the bath of regeneration, which is an ancient name for baptism. Jesus, the Son of God, was baptized in the river Jordan, which St. Ephrem calls the mother and originator of baptism.
Reflection: What does baptism mean to you? How much does baptism play into your spiritual life? If you are baptized, do you know on what date you were baptized? Find out and celebrate your baptismal anniversary, giving thanks to God.
Reflection by Brother Luke Kral, OSB
 Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Old Testament, vol. 5. Marco Conti and Gianluca Pilara, InterVarsity Press, 2008. p. 167.