The First Reading, (2Kgs 5:14-17), presented us with the healing of Naaman, the commander of the army of the Kingdom of Aram, in modern day Syria. Sickness is no respecter of personages, and treatment for serious illness sometimes makes the sick feel that he/she has been violated. Though Naaman had led the kingdom of Aram to conquer and annex neighbouring nations as she rose to power; yet, he was stricken by leprosy, (a dreaded disease), which he was unable to find a cure for in Aram. At the suggestion of an Israelite woman who was captured by the Aram army during one of their raids, Naaman travelled to the Land of Israel to be healed by prophet Elisha.
Prophet Elisha asked Naaman to go and bathe seven times in the River Jordan for his healing. Naaman was initially disappointed and furious with Prophet Elisha, he had expected Prophet Elisha to say some prayers that would cure him, rather than asking hium to go and have a bath. He opined that the kingdom of Aram had better rivers than the Jordan, if all that was needed was for to have a bath, then he should have bathed in Aramean waters. He was later persuaded by his servants to comply with the demand of Prophet Elisha. When he did, he was miraculously restored to full health.
At times in life, only something simple might be needed to achieve a goal. We know that prevention is better than cure. Exercise, eating healthy, having a circle of friends and reducing stress would lead to a healthier life.
Once Naaman realized that he hasd been healed, he came to faith in the one true God, (he was worshipper of Rimmon, the god of thunder), and he presented in thanksgiving to Prophet Elisha ten talents of silver, six sheckels of gold and ten festal robes which Elisha declined, but he, (Elisha), permitted him to collect some soil from Israel which he would use to erect an altar in Aram for the sole purpose of offering sacrifices to the true God.
Prophet Elisha’s asking of Naaman to bathe in the River Jordan is comparable to Jesus using sprittle, or paste made of spittle, and mud to cure blind people, (Mk 8:22-26; Jn 9:1-7). These healings underscore that miraculous healing and medicinal healing can work in pari passu. It is God who gave the doctors and pharmacists the knowledge to use herbs and other medicines to cure illnesses. The Book of Ecclesiasticus, (Sirah), enjoins us to , “Make friends with the doctor, for he is essential to you; God has also established him in his profession…God endows people with knowledge, to glory in his mightly works, through which the doctor eases pain, and the druggist prepares his medicines,” (Eccl 38:1-15).
In the Gospel, Jesus healed 10 lepers. In the bible, leprosy referred to different forms of skin diseases like scaly skin and Hansen disease. Those with other forms of skin disease that was not Hansen disease were kept in quarantine for seven to fourteen days and released back to the community. But those with Hansen disease were ostracized from the community not only because if was an infectious disease, but it was thought to be a punishment from God for committing serious sin. “Anyone with leprosy will wear torn clothing and disordered hair; and will cover the upper lip and shout “unclean, unclean”. As long as the disease lasts, such a person will be unclean and, being unclean, will live along and live outside the camp.” (Lev 13:45)
On their way to show themselves to the priest, the ten lepers realized that they have been miraculously cured as Naaman. One of the who happened to be a Samaritan, (non -Jewish), came back to give thanks to God, and Jesus underscored his faith when he said to him, “your faith has saved you.” Just as Naaman came to faith in the one true God through his healing, the Samaritan leper became a model of a person of faith through his healing.Are we being invited to be always mindful of giving thanks. The Mass is thanksgiving— thanking God for the wonders of his creation, for sending Jesus as our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier. Jesus before he fed the crown with five loaves and two fish, gave thanks to God. Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp