Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favour 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; please accept a present from your servant.’
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.
Today’s story of Naamen the leper would make a gripping movie: The strong, rich hero with one great flaw goes on a quest to find a cure: gets all uppity, and almost loses his chance to achieve the object of his quest, grudgingly listens to reason, and tries the ordinary, seemingly ridiculous directive from a prophet’s mere messenger to go bathe seven times in the muddy Jordan River.
But who among us wouldn’t act as Naaman did? We hear God softly speaking to us, sometimes by sending a messenger in the form of a spouse, friend, or a stranger. God is usually asking us to move in a very ordinary, even mundane way. Think what humility it must have taken for Naamen to listen to an intermediary, bathe in the Jordan, and finally realize that, ironically, after being willing to give up all expectations, it was the God of servant girls, muddy rivers and messengers that he finally met. And, thereby, he was healed.
If the God you’re searching for seems far away and unapproachable, perhaps it’s not as hard as you think. Just be open and willing to meet God anywhere, and humble enough to meet him through anyone!
—Donna K. Becher, M.S. is an associate spiritual director intern at the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality, Charleston, West Virginia. Her training is rooted in the Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Prayer for Humility
Let me have too deep a sense of humor to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.
—Daniel A. Lord, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!