Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
We try and make all these bargains with God, but He asks for remarkably little. In the first reading, Naaman is healed of leprosy and offers Elisha anything he wants. In the end, only right worship will do–a total love of God. Naaman takes the soil of Israel so that he can have a part of the land, the space God created for His people to worship and love Him rightly. In today’s Gospel, only one leper Jesus healed “returned to give thanks to God.” Because he did, he was saved through faith.
Neither Naaman’s healing nor the cleansing of the ten lepers was brought about by anything that they did. Elisha healed without getting any gift, and Jesus healed before the lepers had gotten to the Temple. What God asks for is fairly simple, as Paul reminds us in the second reading. Bear trials. Persevere. Be faithful. God does not want a partner to do business with– God wants a friend. Through baptism, God has created a space in our hearts for each of us to be friends with Him.
The challenge for us is to go back to that space where we may be friends with God. Thankfully, God is always happy to give us things to point to. Naaman was able to bring the two mule-loads of earth with him. Naaman had something he could point to and offer sacrifice on. Through the liturgy, we have an example of what it looks like when space is cleared and loving sacrifice is offered to God. When Naaman decided to offer sacrifice only to God, or when the healed leper returned to give loving thanks to Jesus, they were motivated because they both knew that they had been healed. Reflecting on how we have been healed by God–not just physically, but spiritually–we can likewise cultivate that desire to go to the liturgy and learn how to offer God our loving thanks in friendship.