Naaman the Syrian was a commander of the army of the king of Aram, highly respected and valued by the King even though he was a leper as we read today in 2 Kings. He was someone who had a skin disease that in Jewish circles would make him unclean. He seeks healing for his affliction from Israel’s king who refers him to Elisha the prophet. Elisha is willing to see him and offers Naaman simple instructions for healing: bathe in the Jordan river, more of a dirty creek, seven times. Enraged that he believes his home country waters are better than Israel he balks at following the prophet’s promptings. His servants convince him to obey the prophet and he is healed. Naaman relents and trusts those who serve him.
Naaman moves from arrogant resistance to humble acceptance and believes in the God of Israel. Elisha knows that Naaman’s healing occurs solely through God and he will not accept a gratuity from the commander. Especially in those days, people held great stock in the land, symbolizing God’s presence, so Naaman takes two mule loads of earth back to his home country and there he will worship the God of Israel.
How many people are in need of healing today but refuse to follow their doctor’s orders in order to improve, get better or even see complete healing? At times we can be stubborn, believing that we know best when it comes to our health, our lives, or healing when, in fact, it takes a consultative process to include the best people to find a solution, to find a process for healing. Sometimes, we believe we can do it alone, as if we do not need to seek the advice or wise counsel of experts in their fields.
Someone once said, it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe it takes the best minds in medicine, or politics or governance to find a workable solution to seemingly intractable problems. Where there is a will, there may be a way, but not one person’s way, there must be a collaborative way. Pope Francis is pleading that we take seriously what scientists are finding out about our world, no one person can be the solution, but many people collaborating together can find the way to preserve our planet. Let us seek God’s guidance and wisdom to chart the way.
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor