Disdain

Disdain - Pope Francis         

29.02.16   Holy Mass  Santa Marta      2 Kings 5: 1-15B,        Luke 4: 24-30


The Church prepares us for Easter and today makes us reflect on salvation: what do we think salvation is like, the salvation that we all want?. The story of “Naaman’s disease”, narrated in the Second Book of Kings (5:1-15), presents the fact of death: and afterwards?. Indeed, when there is sickness, it always leads us back to that thought: salvation. But, how does salvation come about? What is the path to salvation? What is God’s revelation to us Christians with regard to salvation?

The key word to understanding the Church’s message today is
disdain. After “Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house and asked to be cured, Elisha sent a boy to tell him to wash in the Jordan seven times. A simple thing. Perhaps for this reason “Naaman disdained”, exclaiming: “I have made such a journey, with so many gifts...”. Instead everything was resolved by simply bathing in the river. Moreover, Naaman continued, “our rivers are more beautiful than this one”.

In Luke (4:24-30), the inhabitants of Nazareth similarly disdained after hearing Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah that Sabbath in the synagogue, when he said “‘today this has happened’, speaking of the liberation, of how the people would be freed”. The people commented: “What do you think about this man? He is one of us, we saw him grow up from boyhood, he never studied”. And the people “disdained” and even “wanted to kill him”.

Again, later on Jesus felt this disdain on the part of the leaders, the doctors of the law who sought salvation in moral casuistry — ‘this can be done to this point, to that point...’ — and thus I don’t know how many commandments they had, and the poor people.... This is why the people did not trust them. The same thing happened with the Sadducees, who sought salvation in compromises with the powerful men of the world, with the emperor: some with clerical networks, others with political networks sought salvation in this way. But the people had an instinct and didn’t believe in them. Instead, they believed in Jesus because he spoke with authority.

And so, “why this disdain?”. It is because, in our imagination salvation must come from something great, from something majestic: only the powerful can save us, those who have strength, who have money, who have power, these people can save us. Instead, “God’s plan is different”. Thus, they feel disdain because they cannot understand that salvation comes only from little things, from the simplicity of the things of God. And when Jesus proposes the way of salvation, he never speaks of great things, but only “little things”.

Re-read the Gospel
Beatitudes Mathew 5: 1-12 — “you will be saved if you do this” — and of Matthew, Chapter 25. They are the two pillars of the Gospel: ‘Come, come with me because you have done this’. It involves simple things: you did not seek salvation or hope in power, in networks, in negotiations, no; you simply did this. Yet actually, this gives rise to much disdain.

Prepare for Easter, by reading the Beatitudes and reading Matthew 25, and thinking and seeing if something about this causes me disdain, takes peace away from me. Because disdain is a luxury that only the
vain, the proud allow themselves.

Here at the end of the Beatitudes Jesus says something powerful: “Blessed is he who is not shocked by me”, who “does not disdain this, who does not feel disdain”. It will do us good to take a little time — today, tomorrow — and read the Beatitudes, read Matthew and pay attention to what is happening in our heart: whether there is something that causes disdain. And “ask the Lord for the grace to understand that the only way to salvation is the folly of the Cross, that is, the annihilation of the Son of God, of his becoming small. In today’s liturgy, “the little thing” is “represented by bathing in the Jordan and by the little village of Nazareth.




Pope Francis   16.03.20 Holy Mass Santa Marta       2 Kings 5: 1-15,      Luke 4: 24-30
Monday of the Third Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II 
Pope Francis Talks about Disdain and the Simplicity of God 16.03.2016

In both texts that the Liturgy proposes for our meditation today there is an attitude that attracts attention, a human behaviour, but not good spirit: indignation. The people of Nazareth began to listen to Jesus, and they liked how He spoke, but then someone said: "But in which university did you study? This is the son of Mary and Joseph, this was the carpenter! What can He come to tell us?" And the people became disdained. They become indignant (cf. Luke 4:28). And this outrage leads them to violence. And so Jesus who they admired at the beginning of His preaching is driven out, to throw Him down the cliff (cf. v. 29).

Even Naamàn, a good man, and Naamàn was also open to faith, but when the prophet sends someone to him to say that he bathes seven times in the Jordan he becomes indignant. But why? "Here, I thought, of course he will come out and stand there, and he will invoke the name of the Lord his God, he will wave his hand over the sick part and he will take away my leprosy. Surely the Abanà and Parpar, rivers of Damascus, are better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I bathe there and cleanse myself? He turned and left angry." With disdain.

Even in Nazareth there were good people; but what is behind these good people that leads them to this indignant behaviour? And in Nazareth it was worse: because of the violence. Both the people of the synagogue of Nazareth and Naamàn thought that God manifested himself only in the extraordinary, in things out of the ordinary; that God could not act in the common things of life, in simplicity. They disdained the simple. They were indignant, they despised simple things. And our God makes us understand that He always acts in simplicity: in simplicity, in the house of Nazareth, in the simplicity of everyday work, in the simplicity of prayer... The simple things. Instead, the worldly spirit leads us towards vanity, towards appearances...

And both end in violence: Naamàn was very educated, but he slams the door in the prophet's face and leaves. Violence, an act of violence. The people of the synagogue begin to get angry, to get heated, and they make the decision to kill Jesus, but unconsciously, and they kick Him out to throw him down. Indignation is an ugly temptation that leads to violence.

They showed me, a few days ago, on a mobile phone, a video of the door of a building that was quarantined. There was one person, a young gentleman, who wanted to go out. And the policeman told him he couldn't. And he punched him, with disdain, with contempt. "But who are you, 'negro', to prevent me from leaving?" It is the indignation of the proud, of the proud ... but with a poverty of spirit that is really awful, of the proud who live only with the illusion of being more than they are. It is a spiritual "illness", people who are indignant: indeed, many times these people need to be indignant, to be indignant to feel like they are someone.

This too can happen to us: "the Pharisaical scandal", the theologians call it, or the scandal of the Pharasees , that is, to scandalize those things such as the simplicity of God, the simplicity of the poor, the simplicity of Christians, as if to say: "But this is not God. No, no. Our God is more cultured, he is wiser, he is more important. God cannot act in this simplicity." And always indignation leads you to violence; both physical violence and verbal violence, which always kills like physical violence.

Let us think of these two passages: the indignation of the people in the synagogue of Nazareth and the indignation of Naamàn, because they did not understand the simplicity of our God.