Monday, March 9, 2015

A lesson from Naaman the Leper: Daily Mass Homily--Monday, March 9th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            We have one of those head-scratching readings this morning about a leper named Naaman.
            We can’t overestimate how bad leprosy was during Old Testament times.  It could not be cured. It was painful.  It ate one’s flesh from the outside in—or even from the inside out. 
            Naaman the Syrian had an amazing gift—a potential cure.  He came to the prophet Elisha who told him, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”  Naaman was to have a new start being freed from this life-threatening and debilitating illness.
            Now the head-scratcher part: “…Naaman went away angry, saying,I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy.”
            Naaman faced a potential cure and angrily complained?  He wanted to see magic.  He wanted Elisha to take a wand and—poof—leprosy gone.  Yet Elisha didn’t ask him to do anything difficult.  Luckily for Naaman, his servants talked sense into him and he was in fact made clean.
            We may hear this story and judge Naaman for his initial foolishness.  Yet all too often people come to priests looking for magic.  For instance, somewhat frequently people come to talk to me about spooky stuff going on in their house.  Do you know what I ask them?  “Have you been baptized?  Do you come to Church?  Do you pray?  Do you come to Confession?”  Sometimes my visitors seem disappointed—I didn’t take out my priest-wand and perform magic! 
            God doesn’t do magic, but He does provide us with simple means to grow in holiness.  Especially in the face of evil, suffering, pain or grief, God cures us through simple stuff—coming to Mass, going to Confession and prayer.  This Lent let’s make sure we’re doing the simple things!

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