Sunday, October 13, 2013
By Judy Morss
By Judy Morss
The stories in our first reading and in the gospel have many things in common. Both stories deal with the healing of a terrible disease and the thankfulness of those who returned in gratitude to their healers.
Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean of his leprosy.
Naaman returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before Elisha and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant." Elisha replied, "As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not take it;" and despite Naaman's urging, he still refused. Naaman said: "If you will not accept, please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth, for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the LORD."
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."
As I pondered the readings of Sunday, I found my mind thinking about the common themes from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Naaman seeks a cure from Elisha and when the leprosy is cleansed, he returns to Elisha to express his gratefulness. That encounter with Elisha and Elisha's God changes Naaman's life forever. Naaman becomes a believer, a faithful follower of the one true God. However, the cure was not as straightforward as we would hope. Naaman at first refused to believe what Elisha told him to do and began to return home without a cure. His servants encouraged Naaman to do as Elisha had said and Naaman changed his mind and did as the Word of God (through Elisha) commanded. Thus the cure!
In contrast, the ten lepers met Jesus and cried to Him to have pity on them. They obviously knew that Jesus was a healer. Jesus simply healed them without further action on their part. However, only one man returned to Jesus shouting praise and thanking Jesus. The others simply went on their way. The man who returned, similar to Naaman, was an outsider, a Samaritan. In both readings, it was the outsider who joyfully received the merciful gift from God. Both men leave their alienation from God and are healed by coming to God.
I am reminded to always seek the Lord; He is my healer, my blessing, may Savior. I am grateful for the undeserved mercy that the Lord gives me when I simply ask. If I begin to slip into that role of "outsider", I need only seek the Lord and ask to be returned to his flock.
May we each be a blessing to one another.