Monday, March 5, 2018

Openness to God at Work in the Ordinary

In today's first reading, 2 Kings 5: 1-15b, we encounter Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram and a man afflicted with leprosy.  We are told that Naaman is highly respected by his master, for through him the Lord brought victory to the Arameans.   In that military victory over Israel,  a little girl was captured and made a servant to Naaman's wife.  This little girl says to Naaman's wife: "If only my  master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria, ..., he would cure him of his leprosy." The faith of a little girl!  Do I have the faith of a child?

The little girl's master sends Naaman to the king of Israel. The king reacts angrily when Naaman approaches him. His fear and his pride get in his way--what will he say? will he fail? will he look like a fool? "Am I a god with power over life and death,"  he asked.  Is the king of the Armenians "looking for a quarrel with me!" Where is this king's faith?  In reflecting on my responses to challenges, how does my fear and pride block me from acting in positive ways?  Are there times when I conclude that people are just out to pick a fight with me when that is absolutely not  true?

The prophet Elisha hears that the king tore his garments in anger and confronted him. "Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel."  Then there is Naaman who reacts angrily when the prophet sends a messenger to him and he is given the following instruction: "Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean."   
Naaman is insulted that 1) the prophet did not come out of his house and talk to him in person and 2) that he is asked to wash seven times in the Jordan River.  Ever bulk that you were not treated as "royalty," as someone of importance deserving a personal interview and a dramatic response to your need for help? "Wash seven times in the Jordan?  You kidding me! We have rivers in my own country!"  Ever walk away from a situation out of pride, refusing to follow a suggestion that, as for Naaman, could have brought you amazing results of God's mercy and compassionate, understanding love? Without humility, we easily deny ourselves hidden graces and blessings such as Naaman experienced.

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