Monday, March 12, 2007

Heal me Lord! But please, do it my way...

Third Week of Lent 2007:Monday
Mass Readings
2 Kings 5:1-15
Luke 4:24-30

Naaman was a powerful man and was the commander of the Aramean Army. He was so respected that even the King of Aram favored him. This favor would naturally have brought great social status and wealth to Naaman's house, yet there was a problem. Naaman, who had everything a man could want, had a dreaded and fatal disease. Naaman was a leper.

Leprosy is a slow and painfully destructive disease and was fatal until recent history. Naaman was surely aware of the fact that he was going to die and that death would be painful. The man that had the power to conquer whole countries was powerless in the presence of leprosy. However, Naaman had people faithful to him especially his wife's servant. It is this humble servant who informs her mistress of the power of Elisha the Prophet. There is hope after all and Naaman prepares to seek out Elisha and ask for God to heal him. Sounds great except for one thing, Naaman wants God to heal him on his terms. Now there is a problem.

Did Elisha ask Naaman to do something horrible? No. All Elisha asked of this mighty and powerful man was that he wash himself in the Jordan. Problem is that Naaman felt too superior to insult himself by getting in the muddy waters of the Jordan. Surely a pristine pond in his homeland would suffice. Well, Naaman's plan did not fit into God's plan. Naaman's pride and his sense of entitlement almost cost him his miracle.

We can read this text from 2 kings and view Naaman as less than smart for almost turning his back on God's miracle. But aren't we like Naaman at times? As a society we have more luxuries than we can even count. We are accustomed to things being easy and the thought of sacrifice or of humbling ourselves can be most disagreeable. We can take on an attitude of; "here's want I want God and I know the best way for you to give it to me". A bit arrogant of us.

God gives us so much everyday. We have so many blessings that we lose sight of what it means to be blessed by God. If we are not careful, our vanity and sense of entitlement can result in the glorious and the miraculous becoming just another commodity we want and that we can demand of God the what, when, why, how and where of a miracle. I know I am guilty of doing that. I know that there are times when I am ungrateful and I want God to do things the way I want it to be done. I am ashamed of those times. Asking for a miracle and then dictating how I want God to deliver it is an act of selfishness and is a show of ungratefulness.

Receiving a miracle requires us to be open to God's will and not our own. As much as we humans like to dictate terms, God's love is not something to be manipulated and turned to our self-will. To receive God's miracles is to be willing to give up our pre-conceived ideas and selfish desires and be open to taking a challenge from God. God may ask us to step outside of our "comfort zone" and we must be open to that. We may be asked to accept something that our own desires tell us to reject. If we do reject God's call, we stand to lose something miraculous. God may present us with a "muddy Jordan" and God may ask us to plunge into it! Can we set aside our pride, arrogance, selfishness and stubbornness long enough to see the glories offered?

Heal me Lord! And please help me to accept it your way.