RCL for 2/12/12:
2 Kings 5:1-14
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”
If I am perfectly honest, I don’t have a lot of patience for these texts. There are too many Naamans in this world. Too many people who feel entitled to special treatment, big shows of power, and lots of glory. They present themselves like the leper who went to Jesus, emboldened by desperation and desire for wholeness. But there is something a little off that gets noticed when things don’t quite go according to plan. What amazes me is that most people don’t seem to notice the difference between these two men, or the people like them in our society.
I heard on the news this week that New Hampshire is considering allowing a casino to raise revenue. I’m not a fan of gambling in general and I believe that casinos bring more problems than the money is worth. However, this was not my primary problem with the story. The revenue would go to reduce business taxes. I have nothing against businesses, but they are not my priority in this state. New Hampshire has a serious budget crisis and has cut (and will continue to cut) much needed human services. Why would any revenue raised by the proposed casinos not go to subsidize human services? Where is that river? There are some politicians who could use a dunking.
And if we are going to dunk some politicians at least seven times, I want to include Rick Santorum this week. I read a couple articles about him that indicated that he believes the rights of the people in California are diminished by the Circuit Court approving gay marriage. There was another article about promising to bomb a Middle Eastern nuclear plant if it didn’t submit to inspection. Admittedly, I did not check the facts on either of these stories, but they do seem consistent with other statements the man has made. I can’t understand either position. Whose rights are diminished when gay people legally marry? What benefit would it be to anyone to bomb a nuclear power plant? All this claimed in the name of God. I hope that river water is very cold.
I know I should pray for folks who seem so shortsighted and full of themselves, but it is so hard when my days are filled with other voices. The cries of those who want to be healed, who don’t understand why Jesus doesn’t heal them the way he healed people in the Bible stories. I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. I can offer comfort and compassion. But a cure is beyond my grasp. I pray for the healing that comes with acceptance of things that truly cannot be changed.
However, there is still something to be learned from that leper who was brave enough and desperate enough to ask Jesus to heal him. Jesus told him to go to the priest, according to the laws of Moses and not tell anyone who really healed him. Who knows if he went through the traditional rituals or not. What Mark tells us is that the man went and told everyone who healed him, and Jesus was very busy after that. So from this, I gather that healing is unexpected and won’t come with bells and whistles. It also might change everything.
In addition to the news stories that caused a rise in my blood pressure, there were a couple that gave me hope. One was the story about the huge protests in Moscow. Anyone who remembers the Cold War, knows that this is phenomenal. It is healing and empowering for a people who had no voice for decades. That kind of transformation is nothing short of miraculous. Putin better watch out; I’m sure there are some rivers in Moscow.
The other story that was encouraging this week, was about JC Penny. They did not bend to the hatred of the “Million Moms.” Good for them. This brings hope to the millions of moms whose children might be welcomed into a more open society. This kind of change is also a break from tradition that ought to be celebrated and proclaimed.
I’m not sure what all this means. There is a fragility to the human body, mind, and spirit. Some recognize this and reach out with compassion. Others run from this and reach out in fear. If politics seems more motivated by arrogance and fear, then what are we doing to make our churches governed by compassion and wisdom? I wish there was a river big enough to bring healing to all who seek it – whether from a sense of entitlement or desperation. Maybe then there would be a touch compassionate enough to transform fear into courage.
In the meantime, maybe it is time for a swim. Who’s in?