When was the last time that you were so truly grateful for something that happened in your life that you had to shout out aloud in thanksgiving. I remember as a kid growing up on the farm, we would often help dad when he went to burn off in the steep gullies that were difficult to slash or otherwise control. Usually the fires burnt away without incident, but occasionally the day was a little hotter than you thought, the ground a little drier or the wind a little stronger and suddenly you were staring down at these seemingly massive flames leaping towards you, with only a damp hessian bag to save you. Thankfully dad always seemed to be there at the right time to block the flames or move the tractor to provide a barrier and we all managed to escape with most of out hair intact. The only appropriate response at such a time is to lift your voice in praise of the God of life!
We are given the stories of a number of individuals today who have every reason to be truly grateful to the God of life – for curing them of their dreaded skin diseases. In 2 Kings 5 there is the story of Naaman, a commander in the Syrian army inflicted with leprosy who hears through one of his Hebrew servant girls that there is a prophet in Israel who could heal him. With gold and silver and fine linen piled on him he and his soldiers set off to visit the king of Israel. Unfortunately, with the diplomacy of the time, the king suspects that Naaman is only there to spy out the land or otherwise cause trouble, so he doesn’t receive this request to be healed very well. Elisha the prophet hears about Naaman and sends word for him to come and visit the home of the prophet. Naaman expects a great show with Elisha performing perhaps a complicated incantation and dance while waving his hands over the leprosy to effect the cure. Instead Elisha merely sends word through one of his servants to Naaman that he should proceed down to the river Jordan and wash seven times in its muddy waters. Naaman is offended by this treatment and leaves, preferring to wash in the more abundant and cleaner rivers of Syria, fed as they are by the snow melt and springs of Mt Hermon – but after the pleading of one of his servants he finally agrees to wash – and he is cured.
But it is one thing to be cured of disease – it is quite another to be healed. All ten of the lepers in the Gospel today, from Luke 17, are cured. But only one is truly healed. Only one returns in gratitude to worship the God who restored his life. Many are called – but only few respond in grateful worship.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 8am (10’05”)
Sunday 28, Year C.