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What are these stories Jesus is talking about?

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Did you know…

…that Jesus is referencing two stories from two different parts of Hebrew scripture when he talks to the crowd in this week's gospel? The first is the story about the widow of Zeraphath from the 1 Kings 17:8-24. In this story Elijah is sent out of Israel to a town called Zeraphath in the region of Sidon to live with a widow there. While he is there she tends to him and offers him food, and in return her food supply is seemingly made infinite, so that her "jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail." Also, during his visit there, her son takes ill and dies, and Elijah prays to God to bring life back to the boy and he is raised from the dead! A pretty amazing visit, really.

The second story is about Namaan the Aramean from 2 Kings 5:1-27. In this story Namaan, who is a high ranking official in the Aramean army, is sent by the king of Aram to Israel to seek out Elisha so that he might be cured of his leprosy. Though Namaan is skeptical of Elisha's directions to wash in the Jordan seven times he follows his instructions and is healed. Not only that, but when Elisha's helper, Gehazi, gathers payment from Namaan against Elisha's wishes, Namaan's leprosy is transferred to him and all of his ancestors after him.

What do these stories have in common? Why do you think the crowd gets so mad when Jesus refers to these stories? What is Jesus saying to the crowd in using these commonly known stories from Hebrew scripture?

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