May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts,
Today the first reading and the Gospel talk about the same experience.
They both speak of the journey to a faith that can save.
Both the Samaritan and Naaman came to a new found faith.
They are both different people at the end of their stories.
In both readings both Naaman and the Samaritan Leper realize that they needed to be healed .
They also realize that only God can do it.
So Naaman travels a long way to see the Prophet Elisa.
And the Samaritan and the other lepers in his company reach out to Jesus who many considered a prophet.
They went to these holy men to ask God for help.
Their encounter with Elisa the Prophet and Jesus was less then memorable.
Elisa quite matter of factly said go wash in the river and closed the door.
Jesus simply told them to go to Jerusalem show themselves to the priests.
Neither invoked God,
or uttered a prayer
or medicated the lesions
or offered any kind of sacrifice.
Next both Naaman and the Samaritan had to trust that God would hear and answer their prayer.
In other words they had to do what they were told even if it didn’t make sense.
If you know the story Naaman needed some convincing to go and wash in the river but he finally went.
When they were healed both Naaman and the Samaritan made a profession of faith.
Naaman returned to Elisa and declared his faith in the God of Israel.
The Samaritan returned to Jesus and prostrated himself before Him and thanked Him.
Jesus to him, “your faith has saved you.”
What an incredible statement… not only was he healed physically but more importantly he was brought to faith.
Jesus lamented that the others even though they were healed did not come to faith.
They failed to realize that God had given them an incredible gift.
Let’s look at those four moments a little closer
First we must know we are in need of God and are dependent on him.
Second we must ask His help.
Third we must trust He will give it.
Finally we must thank him for the gift received.
What do these four steps have to do with us?
Lots of people today simply don’t turn to God.
Many are lost in despair believing that no one can help them or they don’t realize how ill they really.
So many of us are in denial about how ill we really are spiritually or physically.
So many of us comfort ourselves with thoughts like,
I’m not perfect but I’m not as bad as him or her… they’re a mess.
If Naaman or the Samaritan had not felt they were ill they would never sought to be healed.
One the of the first steps in sobriety is for a person to realize that they are powerless,over their addiction.
Those in AA know only when you realize that you are powerless can you really turn to God your higher power.
To be brought to faith we have to be humble enough to be willing to ask for help.
This is so essential.
Think about it…
If the lepers and Naaman had not sought out help from God there is no indication that they would have been healed.
It is so clear from the first reading and the Gospel that we must open the door to our hearts for God to come in.
So many of us refuse to ask for help.
So many of us let our pride get in the way of being healed.
The second step is also crucial
Both Naaman and the Samaritan had to trust that their prayers would be answered.
The stories make it clear that trust is essential.
Naaman had to wash himself in the river.
The Samaritan had to start off toward Jerusalem to show himself to the priest
Faith, healing, God’s loving providence demand a response from us.
May people never feel God’s presence in their lives because they never really seek it out.
Finally a careful reading of the scriptures reveals that 11 people were healed that day but only two were brought to faith only two were saved body and soul.
Naaman and the Samaritan were saved because they believe and they returned to thank God for his blessing.
Quite frankly many of us pray a lot when times get tough.
But few of us remember to be thankful or recognize God’s presence in our lives when times are good or when our health is restored.
You know here at St. Paul’s we have the October count for the Archdiocese.
At Catholic University we had the December count for the Board of Trustees.
And it usually showed that around 50% of the students who identified themselves as Catholic went to Mass on Sunday.
Sometimes however it would jump to 52% or 53% and I could never figure out why… until one year I realized the closer the count was to final exams the higher the number.
I’m sure there were often prayers at that Mass like Oh God help me fit a whole semester into 10 days… Please… my parents are gonna be very upset with me.
Yes today the scriptures reminds us that
We must know we are in need of God and are dependent on him.
We must be willing to ask His help.
We must trust he loves us and will provide for us.
And we must thank him for the gifts received recognizing His loving providence
Only then will we ever hear the
“Stand up and go your faith has saved you…”