Healing then and now
By James Rangitsch
This week the theme between the first reading and the Gospel is the healing of Lepers. For many this is just a story about the ability of Elisha and Jesus to heal the physical ailments of people of the time. How does this affect us today and how can it possibly be of importance in today’s world? I would submit that the disease of leprosy is much the same as sin in that a little is inconvenient but over time it slowly eats away at you. One affects the body and the other affects our eternal souls.
Elisha tells Naaman to go to the River Jordan and plunge into the water 7 times. Not 3 not 5 but 7. This is significant in its own right that the number seven is a symbol of fullness or completeness. This can easily be interpreted as Naaman becoming complete again in the eyes of the community. It is also significant in the fact that water was the medium to cleanse him of his affliction. Water is very significant to all Christians in that it is used to wipe away our sins at Baptism. So the conclusion that can be drawn is that just like the waters of the Jordan cleansed Naaman of his affliction the waters of baptism can cleanse us of our sins and make our souls complete again.
The Gospel reading tells the story of the 10 lepers that wanted Jesus to heal them of their illness. Jesus tells them to go and present themselves to the priest. Jesus cleansed their bodies just because they asked for his pity. Much the same as baptism the sacrament of Reconciliation is made available to us to absolve us of our sins and make our souls right again with God. The key here is we are required to take the first step and go to the confessional and profess our offenses.
In both cases Naaman and the one leper come back to their healer and give thanks and praise for the healing that has taken place. My question is are we too proud or nonchalant to actually take the next step and thank God for the Sacrament of reconciliation? If not, we certainly should be. Jesus asked the returning leper “Were there not 10 cured? Where are the other 9?” Let us not be like the 9 ungrateful lepers but like the one Samaritan and Naaman that glorified the Lord in their healing. May we use the rite of reconciliation to cleanse our souls and then truly thank God for his healing touch on our soul.