A Reflection on the Readings for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Kings 5:14-17
Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
As we look over the readings for this weekend, the major theme revolves around the healing of lepers. Centering on the ability of God to change the state, the physical body of Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, in the first reading. Then again, in the gospel, we have Jesus responding to a group of lepers who call out to him, ten to be precise, and all ten are changed just as Naaman was simply by the words of Jesus to go and present themselves to those, the priest, that had condemned them to their exiled life outside of the community.
Of these eleven individuals from both the readings who had this amazing healing, this physical change, only two realize the amazing power of the creator, of God, and show their gratitude. These two are more than changed; they are saved!
The healing of their bodies gave them a deeper invitation, an opportunity to be changed in their minds, their hearts, an opportunity to see their healing not just their own good fortune but rather the saving presence of God at work in his creation, in his people, in his world.
So, these passages are really a roadmap for prayer.
It is out of the awareness of their isolation and their disease that the lepers seek out help. Not the help of any physician, but the help of the spiritual physician. So many times, for anyone one of us, that is the starting point for prayer. Our awareness of our dependence, our insufficiency.
It is hard for us to accept the image of ourselves as lepers, as wounded creatures in need of healing, and this is a major roadblock to prayer. If we are to approach God realistically, we must do so as the lepers did in the gospel, saying … “Lord have pity on us. Help us.”
And he does. He may do so in unexpected ways, ways that don’t follow the script we have written, and ways that may not feel much like help at first.
It is hard to speculate what may have been going through the ten lepers’ minds when the response they received from Jesus was such a dull and seemingly disappointing one. He simply told them to go and follow the routine prescribed in the Mosaic Law.
So, at that moment, as it is for all of us, that next step in prayer is just a blind leap of faith. Our needs, and our situation, entices and move us to make the request, but we cannot let our needs move us to set the conditions for the answer we will receive. We must be resolved to accept the fact that God’s response to our prayer is the right response, even if that doesn’t fit our plans or our desired outcome.
This is probably the most difficult step in anyone’s spiritual growth. This is the point where we are either changed or we are saved. Anyone can be changed, but to be saved, we have to transcend, go beyond our immediate experience, whether that is good, bad, or somewhere in between, and rely on God. Not because of what he can do for us, but simply because he is God!
Deacon Jeff Borski