This Sunday’s readings tell stories of people undergoing crisis in their lives. Naaman, the army commander of the King of Aram, was a leper. Interestingly, one of those that the Arameans had captured from Israel became the servant of Naaman’s wife who suggested that her master see and present himself to the prophet Elisha in Samaria. When Naaman told the King of Aram about this, the king told him to go. Upon reaching Elisha’s place, the prophet told him to ‘Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.’ (2 Kgs. 5: 10). Naaman responded, ‘What, you expect me to do that?’ He was prevailed by his servants to follow the prophet’s prescription. Reluctantly obeyed, and said to himself, ‘What have I to lose?’ and he washed himself in the Jordan seven times and was healed. ‘His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.’ (2 Kgs. 5: 14b)
In the Gospel, Our Lord met ten lepers as he was passing through Samaria and Galilee on the journey to Jerusalem. They shouted to Him, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And only one of them, a Samaritan; realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The nine didn’t return to thank the Lord.
All of us have to go through our own difficulties in life, it can be an affliction like cancer; or through constant struggle where we just can’t seem to catch the solution. It can also be losing someone close to us where the heartache seemed endless. There are also times when we encounter failures that simply don’t make sense. “Why would God let this happen to me?” So many things in this world don’t seem to make sense. Which makes the reasonable proposition to be like Naaman, doubting at first. In situations like these, we don’t have anyone to turn to except God. In these darkest moments, the only real recourse is to trust the Lord, who will bring us through. When our loved ones are passing through the same trials, what we can do is show them that the Lord’s grace will deliver them through, amidst the shroud of darkness in their lives. We ask Him to give us the strength, and to use our struggles to make us stronger and in the process gain more wisdom.
Even when we aren’t faithful, God is always faithful. In times where we fail Him, we simply believe and trust. This is the world we live in. But Christ comes to us in these moments, and helps us to see He is in control. We shouldn’t lose the opportunity to see God in these. Just like the one who is grateful, who realized that he wasn’t only healed, but that he has encountered the Majesty of God in the process! The worst thing we can do is to be like the other nine, who were ungrateful and didn’t even realize that they encountered God. They weren’t able to make sense of their experience, and they missed the true encounter with God.
Needless to say, the readings today also teach us that with humility and expectant faith, we should all the more be grateful to the Lord for helping us through our ‘leprosy’ experiences. We pray for the wisdom of recognizing Him amidst our hopelessness and difficulties.