In today’s first reading and Gospel, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the C9th BC, Samaria, and the area of modern day Syria is important. Samaritan’s weren’t considered ‘pure Jews’ , their culture had been tainted and lacked the validity that the Jews in Judea (southern region) supposedly possessed. Yet in the first reading; Naaman, who is the the commander of an army of what would be modern day Syria, is cured of his leprosy; Elisha is a Samaritan prophet; and then we have the Samaritan leper cured in the Gospel. These ‘outsiders’ (the Syrian and the Samaritans), are the sources through which God’s message of love and inclusion is shown. These supposed ‘lesser individuals’ indeed hold the pathway to God.
I have been deeply saddened in recent days to hear that this magnificent region and people, now looks certain to again face a period of war and conflict, with an invasion of Syria by Turkey appearing likely. This is all the more tragic when we realise that this notion of certain individuals being seen as ‘lesser and inferior’ has been rife in this very same stretch of land the last ten millennia at least as today’s readings remind us.