Monday of the Third WeekReflection
I love the story of Naaman the army commander. It is a story that turns traditional lines of power, authority, social class, and politics upside down. A Jewish servant girl speaks her mind in front of her mistress, who relays the message to her husband, who then decides, surely out of desperation, to take the advice. And yet, even in his desperation, the thought of washing seven times in a muddy river in the land of the conquered enemy is too much, at least at first. When his servants persuade him to give it a shot, you can almost hear Naaman muttering and sputtering as he wades into the river for the seventh time. And then, emerging from the water, he looks at his skin and finds the leprosy gone. About the closest we can come to imagining what this would be like in our own day would be to think of a politician who, told he has terminal cancer, decides to go to Cuba to see if the medical system there can do any better. Imagine his surprise when, instead of a state of the art surgical room, he is taken to a homeopathic healer who tells him to drink an herbal remedy! Does he drink it? How ridiculous! How humiliating! And yet, what would be lost in trying? Why not give it a shot? Back in the states for more testing, he is told that the cancer has vanished. Such is the nature of the irony that Jewish hearers must have relished when they listened to this story. But in the Gospel story, Jesus turns the tables once again. He reminds his listeners of Naaman’s outsider status. Elisha, “wastes” God’s healing power on the pompous, undeserving commander. As if on cue, the listeners take offense. Jesus has “read the story wrong.” Who am I in this story? Who are you?
PrayerGod of healing—You who dignifies the lowly and heals the sick—show me where I am Naaman, and where I am the Jewish servant girl. Heal me of my sickness and of my pride. Amen.
Bob Brenneman, Professor of Sociology
ScriptureFirst Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-15b
Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4
Gospel: Luke 4:24-30
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website