Now the United States of America was commander of the free world. She was a great country, in her own sight and in the sight of others, highly regarded, because through her the Lord had given victory. She was a valiant warrior, but she had leprosy.
This paraphrase of the story of Naaman, brings the ancient tale into a vivid contemporary focus. Yes, the re-telling is American, but it resonates with my Canadian soul. Author Adriene Thorne boldly points a finger at her great country's sickness, a sickness that will destroy it if it isn't treated.
Click the link below to read Thorne's article.
I am particularly struck by how hard it is for the mighty Naaman to "lower" himself. He is only healed when he listens to advice from a little slave girl, when he travels to the land of his enemies for help, when he leaves his anger behind at the advice of servants, and when he does the ridiculous "7 dips" in the muddy Jordan.
Naaman has to acknowledge and rely on the wisdom of foreigners. He has to learn that money, success, and social status do not make him better than others. Healing only happens when all the different people actually respect each other in lived-out ways.
It's useful to follow up the Old Testament reading of Naaman's story by reading right to the end of 2 Kings chapter 5. Just in case any of us starts feeling this is only a cautionary tale for the rich and powerful, we get an epilogue story of the greed of a lowly servant. None of us, no matter our station in life, is exempt from the lessons here. The finger is pointing at us and naming the sicknesses we all share. Are we all going to try to share in the healing?
Lectionary passages for Oct 9, 2016 are: 2 Kings 5: 1-3, 7-15, Psalm 111, 2 Tim. 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19