16 March 2020
2 Kings 5:1-15
Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper.
Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’
Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’
‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’
So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’
When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’
So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’
But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage.
But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean.”’
So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.
Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’
Jesus came to Nazara and spoke to the people in the synagogue: ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
“I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.”
“I hope to be a religious sister one day,” I told my friends.
They laughed at me. They couldn’t see past my flaws and accept that I was a child of God, beautifully, wonderfully and fearlessly made.
We expect people to be perfect if they want to join the religious vocation. We may even expect the religious to have a halo over their heads. We put them on so high a pedestal that if they fall, they are condemned by us to be failures.
But I remember reading somewhere that God calls sinners to be His friends, and He does not want perfect people to serve Him. Instead, He wants imperfect people to join the religious orders, so that through serving Him, they may be made perfect.
This brings me to the sexual scandal that the Catholic Church faces in modern times today. Indeed, we should feel compassion and fight for justice for the victims; but, do we also reject the priests immediately and cold-heartedly? Justice does not mean that we retaliate or shun the wrongdoer, it just means that we bring the truth to light. We should remember that all the clergy are human and imperfect as well, and we should always keep them in our prayers.
(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)
Prayer: Father, please help those who are called to You to join the religious vocation to be courageous, and stand up for themselves and for You, even if they are being ridiculed. Please help those who are in the vocation to accept and embrace their imperfections, yet learn how to be perfect like You through service. Please help us to forgive priests who have fallen in scandals, and to never lose our faith. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for showing us Your example to always do what is right and to have the faith even when there are scandals in the Catholic Church. Amen.