In the first reading of this 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (2 Kings 5:14-17), we read about Naaman, a five star general in the Syrian Army, who had the misfortune of being struck with leprosy. His healing began with the mercies of a slave girl who had been captured by the Syrian army and given into slavery to Naaman’s wife. The role she played in this story portrays a sad twist of fate, which I believe has a lot to teach us as we follow the footsteps of Christ.
This girl was torn from her land and family during a raid by the Syrian army on the land of Israel. For all intents and purposes, she had every reason to harbor hatred, animosity, and a desire for revenge toward her captors. The flesh in her could have rejoiced at the sad condition of her master, who was infected with leprosy, and she could have said: “It suits him right! That is what he deserves!" But instead, she refused to walk according to the flesh and took the highway of the spirit. She initiated the process for Naaman’s healing by saying to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy”. It was this suggestion that brought healing to Naaman. This makes me remember the words of Scripture: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse and do good to them that despite you."
The beauty in this part of the story is that this little girl allowed the love of God to rein in her spirit as she took the high way of grace even in the face of her own turmoil. This story has caused me to wonder, “When was the last time I took an opportunity like this to do some good toward another person? When was the last time I did an act of grace toward someone I do not like or even care about?
My friends, over time, life has taught me some lessons. I have come to learn that it takes one beggar telling another beggar where the food is in other to bring God’s grace to others; that helping others achieve their dreams is really an indirect way of helping myself achieve my own dreams, because whatever good we do to help others has a way of turning around, to complete the circle, and come back to us; that we truly make a life by what we give; that we become stronger by helping others even as we are struggling with our own problems; that the easiest way to find happiness is to focus less on our own problems and more on how we can help others; that it is a great success in life to be the reason why someone believes in the goodness of humanity. These lessons sound counterintuitive but time and time again, they have proven to be true.
But, let’s not be deceived. These life lessons are not easy to live by. Our human nature is not adapted to it, naturally. We must, therefore, wonder how this little slave girl found the courage and care to help Naaman even as she was going through her own storms. From every indication, it was from her faith formation; a convinced heart dedicated to Yahweh, the God of Israel; a heart uncorrupted by hatred, wrath, anger, and a vile for revenge. She allowed her sense of God to override the dictates of her human nature, and the desires of the spirit to rule over the desires of her flesh. It takes humility, submission to God’s will, and obedience to God’s word to go higher when our foes go low. This is what it takes to be a disciple of the Lord and to bear the name Christian. Yes, it is not easy! But if this little slave girl can do it, then let us pray that the good Lord will help us grow deeper and deeper in our love for His word and in obedience to His will, Amen!