Today’s first Mass reading from the Second Book of Kings tells the story of Naaman, the army commander of the King of Aram, who was a leper. Naaman goes off to find the prophet who he is told can cure his leprosy. When he meets Elisha, Elisha tells him to go and wash seven times in the Jordan and he will be cured.
This advice angers Naaman, who had expected that the prophet “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.” He is incensed by the advice to wash in a river that by his estimation is a quite ordinary one. His servants argue with him, “if the prophet had told you to do something quite extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” And so he washes in the Jordan seven times and is healed.
It strikes me that we all have a little bit of Naaman in us. When it comes to God (and probably not just God), we like big. We like flashy. We like extraordinary. We like heroic acts and big deeds.
Come to us in a big flash of lightening or a burning bush, we ask. Do something spectacular and dramatic to get our attention. And sometimes God does. But other times He comes to us in a tiny whisper.
Or, to parallel Naaman, we think there ought to be some big, complicated, heroic act that will gain us the prize. Instead God says: love one another. Take care of the least of your brothers and sisters. Nothing big. Nothing flashy. Just love.
To paraphrase the servants of Naaman: If God had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not do it? All the more now, since he said to you, “Love one another.”