Homily Oct 9-10


Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time C 2010

Today’s first reading only gave us a snapshot of a much longer story.  Naaman was the army captain of an evil foreign land.  He was wealthy, intelligent, and a great leader but he suffered from leprosy.  During one of his raids in the land of Israel, he captured a little girl who became the servant of his wife.

Nothing could cure Naaman’s leprosy, so this captured girl told Naaman to go the land of Israel where he would experience healing. 

Naaman left his home, taking with him numerous treasures, and he visited the king of Israel.  The king thought that this enemy army captain wanted to start a fight.  Why would the enemy captain who captured his people, killed his soldiers, and looted treasures come to him for help?  The king exclaimed, Am I a god with power over life and death that this man should come to me to be cured of leprosy?  The king was not aware that God had raised up prophets in his land.  While Naaman was still with the king, the Prophet Elisha sent word for Naaman to come and visit.

When Naaman came to the Prophet Elisha’s house, he was not allowed in.  Instead, one of the prophet’s servants came and gave this message, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”  Naaman was less than impressed.  He never saw the prophet, the prophet did not pray, and the waters of the Jordan were dirty in comparison with the waters of his home country.  He went away angry saying he was not going to follow the prophet’s word.

One of Naaman’s servants reasoned with him saying that he would do something difficult if the prophet told him so.  Since the prophet told him to do something simple, he should do it.  Naaman went to the Jordan and was cleansed.  Naaman was so thankful he offered Elisha all his treasures but Elisha refused to accept them.  Then Naaman asked for some soil of his enemy’s land the he could offer worship to the true God.  Finally, Naaman said that despite believing and following the true God, he has to bow to the false gods when his king worshiped at their temple.  The prophet understood the delicate situation and simply told Naaman to go in peace.

When Naaman left and was some distance away, one of Elisha’s servants thought that Elisha was too generous and kind to one of Israel’s enemies.  Elisha’s servant ran, caught up with Naaman, and lied saying Elisha needs provisions because unexpected guests arrived.  So Naaman gave Elisha’s servant silver and festive garments.  When his servant returned with these items, Elisha confronted him for lying to Naaman and for taking his silver and garments.  Elisha then said that he would suffer from the leprosy Naaman suffered from.


Who are we in the story?  Are we the enemy that has to experience the healing power of God?  Are we the prophet that can bring healing and knowledge of God to someone who seems to be lost?  Are we the jealous servant angry and upset when people seem to be too merciful or lenient to our enemies?

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