The parable this week continues the thread from earlier weeks, again looking at “faith.” For this week’s discussion, let’s note the parable of the lepers whom Jesus healed and who forgot to be grateful for their blessing. The go back to the old testament lesson from 2 Kings about Naaman, a proud Syrian commander who happened to have leprosy. His servant (a captive) tells Naaman that he would be cured if he goes to the prophet Elisha. So Naaman goes but, did I say he was proud? Yep, too proud to really go in to see Elisha, but expects Elisha to come to him. So Elisha kinda dismisses him and says go wash seven times in the Jordan. Incensed for any number of reasons, Naaman begins to rant until his servants remind him that the instructions are pretty simple. Reluctantly Naaman gives in and, following the simple instructions given, is HEALED! All he has to do was follow the directions. Naaman is grateful and gives glory to Israel’s God.
Could the lesson be that simple? Follow the directions given to you. Give it a try. You may be “healed”. And, before we move on, please note that the blessings or favors were conferred on someone who was “not one of us.”
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2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master . . ., The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. . . . So Naaman came with his horses and chariots [to Elisha], and . . . Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! . . . But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, `Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean. Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.”
From sermon4kids.com: “So Naaman went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River. When he came up out of the water for the seventh time, the leprosy was gone! It was a simple solution to a serious problem, but Naaman almost missed it because he didn’t want to follow the directions. We often face problems in our life. Sometimes we are willing to try almost anything — anything, that is, except what God’s Word tells us to do. God’s Word has the solution to all of life’s problems, if we will just follow the directions.”
Collect: Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reflection: Can you recount some of the ways in which you are glorifying and enjoying God in your daily life? What new habits or practices might cultivate in you a more eucharistic life?
Practice: As we begin the season leading to Thanksgiving, a new activity “Practice” is added. With this activity, we’ll think of way to put the lessons into practice. So this week, give praise to God for ways he has healed you. If you are so moved, post to our website.
Ear Worm: “Healing river of the spirit” by Ruth Duck; “We’ll sing in the morning” by Ian Sowton (from Salvation Army); “Go wash in that beautiful stream” by Charles Tineley, Southrern gospel quartet (sheet music here); “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister.
Contemporary Parables (aka Movies): “Elisha and the general“, kid friendly video; “Patch Adams” (1998) – healing the whole person, not the disease; the power of laughter to help in healing. (submitted by Alan Missen); “X-Men” (2000), risking own life to heal a friend.
Again, with the choices! This week, Commander Naaman had only to follow the directions: his choice was simple—don’t follow the directions and remain diseased OR follow the directions and be cured. Think about it! Your choice is probably about that simple. Follow the simple rule of life that Jesus gives. Good luck!
In today’s liturgy, the central theme is the inclusive nature of God’s call to us. Although Judaism and Christianity have at points in history have been presented as limited and exclusive, the word of God in both Testaments is insistent that God calls all people into the Kingdom.
In today’s gospel, the willingness of the Samaritan leper to recognize Christ (excluded from conventional society because of his ethnicity and his affliction), and Jesus’ ministry to him, was used by Jesus as a sign of God’s favor to all people. Faith is not limited only to a few special people.
The story of Elisha and Naaman is a parallel event to today’s Gospel passage. Naaman, also from a foreign and despised people and a leper, is nevertheless healed by the great Hebrew prophet. God’s goodness is not only for Jews and Christians but also for all people.
In the reading from II Timothy we have instructions to an early church leader concerning the message he is to proclaim and the character of his ministry. Timothy is reminded that God remains faithful to us and that our response is to be faithful to God.
In the Eucharist, we join as the people of God. We are set apart by baptism, not as an exclusive society, but are called to be the Spirit’s instruments in calling all people into God’s family. We are of every race, class, and heritage, yet we are united in Christ as a priestly people sent out to the entire world.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.