Saturday, October 9, 2010
Speaking Truth to Power
A 24-year old man afflicted with leprosy
The first reading in today's mass is the story of Naaman being healed of leprosy. For the purposes of the liturgy, it concentrates only on Naaman bathing in the Jordan and returning to give thanks. There is an interesting backstory, though.
When Naaman presented himself at Elisha's house, the prophet sent his servant out to give the instruction to bathe seven times in the Jordan. Now Naaman was a bigshot, the commanding general of King Ben-Hadad's Syrian army and possibly second only to the king himself. He expected to be tended by other bigshots - by King Joram of Israel to whom he had gone first, and at least by Elisha personally when he was sent there. Nope. A scruffy servant directed him to go take not one bath but seven. So he was about to take his bruised ego (and his ravaged body) back to Syria. But a servant asked him, "Father, if the prophet had bid you do some great thing, surely you should have done it: how much rather what he now has said to you: Wash, and you shall be clean?"
Naaman almost missed the greatest blessing of his life because he was putting his ego above the simple Word of the Lord. That servant was probably risking his life to speak without being spoken to. But his apparent love and compassion for his master overcame his fear and he spoke the truth in that love, Let us pray the people around us will love us enough to arrest us when we're about to be hoist with our own foibles. And let us pray that when it is our turn to correct another we will receive grace to do it lovingly, knowing we are afflicted also and in need of healing.