28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
2 Kings 5:14-17
Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4 (see 2b)
2 Timothy 2:8-13
October 9, 2022
Naaman was a great soldier, serving as commander in his king’s army. He was also a leper. He had sought a cure in many ways. Unable to obtain a cure, he learned of the prophet Elisha and went to him for healing.
Elisha told him to go plunge into the Jordan River. Since Naaman was not a Jew, the Jordan River was not special to him. So, Elisha’s instruction seemed frivolous to him. His attendants convinced him to do it.
When Naaman “plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God,” something wonderful happened. “He was clean of his leprosy.” Good things happen when we do what God says through his prophets.
Naaman understood the significance of his healing but he did not fully understand the source of his healing. To show his gratitude for his healing, he returned to Elisha to offer him a gift.
Elisha refused the gift because he knew the glory belonged to God. It was God who had healed Naaman, not Elisha.
Hearing this, Naaman wanted to be able to continue to show his gratitude to God so he asked to take “two mule-loads of earth” with him. Why? Because the belief of many in those days was that gods were gods of the local place. So, if Naaman was going to worship the God of the Israelites back home, he would need dirt from Israelite land upon which to erect an altar.
We ask God for help. Do we remember to thank him?
As Jesus “continued his journey to Jerusalem…ten lepers met him.” As lepers, per the Mosaic law, “they stood at a distance” from where they cried out “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” They asked for help from the one they called “master.” They cried out in faith believing He could help them.
Did Jesus anoint them with oil? Did He wash them with water? Did He tell them to plunge into the Jordan River? No.
Jesus’ only response was to tell them “Go show yourselves to the priests.” This was what the Mosaic Law called for after lepers were healed. They had not yet been healed but they trusted in Jesus and did what He said.
For their trust, for their faith in Jesus, they were healed.
What was their reaction? We do not know what nine of them did. I hope they did what Jesus told them to do and went to the priests where they would have been declared clean.
One had a different reaction. He recognized Jesus as the source of his healing and “returned glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.”
Do we see Jesus as the source of our healing and thank him?
When we face serious illness, we should do two things. We should pray to God and we should ask healthcare workers for help. When we are healed, we should thank both God and the healthcare workers.
The two are not mutually exclusively. There are those who think physical healing comes from healthcare workers only. Medical science is wonderful but where do they get their knowledge and abilities from?
Think about it. When a person has a bypass operation on their heart, a vein is taken from their leg to replace the clogged arteries in their heart. Where did they ever get the idea this could be done? God.
The same could be true for the way other illnesses are treated. The inspiration comes from God. The ability to do these procedures also comes from God. Thus, we thank God for guiding the healthcare workers and we thank the healthcare workers for using their abilities to care for people.
What about when we feel like our current prayers aren’t being answered? In faith, we remember what God has done for us in the past and trust that He will answer our prayers at the appropriate time in accord with his will.
Until then, we ask for the grace to live with an “attitude of gratitude” for what God has already done for us. Such gratitude can change the way we look at our present sufferings. It gives us the strength to bear our present sufferings, to persevere in faith.
We ask God for help with many things. Do we remember to thank him?