Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’ So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, ‘Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.’
He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, ‘When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.’
But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, ‘I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?’ He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, ‘Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, “Wash, and be clean”?’ So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Naaman’s story is so human. He is a man who wants to be healed, has some societal power, and uses what he has. The surprise comes when he is healed in a way far too simple than he believes he might demand. Really, that’s all I have to do?
As lent continues to move, people find themselves very proud for accomplishing the great lenten tasks they set, or terribly disappointed in their inability to be disciplined enough to accomplish the tasks.
Our first reading today invites satisfaction and grateful response for what has been accomplished, and encouragement to continue to grow through the simple things as well.
St. Ignatius of Loyola invites a conversation with the Lord, who is on the cross…. “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?” This conversation emerges from our encounter with Christ, suggesting an openness to whatever may come. Celebrate the daily connection with the desire to encounter.
Naaman is healed because he is encouraged to believe in the little things. What are the little things that help your faith? May you grow in the little things this lent.
—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Prep.
Under a leaf, in a snowflake, In a blade of grass, in a raindrop, All parts of nature. In your parents’ loving embrace, In the phone call from your grandparents, All family relationships. In working and sharing with others, In helping the unfortunate, All volunteering jobs. Where are you able to find God? Lord, help me to find you in all ways and walks of life. Amen.
—Jared Kiley, St. Xavier High School, Cincinnati, Ohio