God's Word on Sunday: Unleash the power of spiritual healing

  • October 6, 2019

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 13 (Year C) 2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19

When pain and suffering become unbearable most people are willing to try anything. 

For Naaman the Syrian, this meant making a humiliating journey to the land of Israel, the home of his enemies. Not only that, he had to swallow his pride and ask an Israelite prophet for healing. He suffered from leprosy, a terrible, ravaging disease that also carried a huge social stigma. 

One of his slave girls, an Israelite captured on one of their raids, remembered that there was a prophet — Elisha — who could work miracles and healings. At first, things did not go well. Elisha told him to wash seven times in the Jordan. 

Naaman was outraged that he had come all this distance just to be told to do something as stupid and mundane as wash in the river. After all, there were plenty of rivers in his own land. 

But one of his men prevailed on him to at least try it. “If the prophet had asked you to do something really weird, you would have agreed,” he reasoned. No harm done — maybe it will work. And it did! 

A grateful and overwhelmed Naaman wanted to reward Elisha, but the prophet refused. God’s healing was not for sale and Elisha was not a prophet for his own benefit. 

This act of mercy and kindness towards an outsider and enemy had a profound effect. Naaman wanted to take some earth back to his own country so that he could worship the God of Israel there. In the ancient world, gods were tied to a people and their land. 

Although not formally an Israelite, his spiritual awareness and consciousness had been transformed. He had been humble enough to make the journey and, after some prodding, to do what the prophet recommended. He definitely stepped out of his comfort zone and perhaps Elisha did, too. 

There is no telling what influence we may have when we are generous with mercy and willing to reach across barriers. God’s mercy and grace can transform both sides in these encounters, and it could transform much of our world. Each day we are given many opportunities to put this into practice.

There is a rather puzzling but moving saying in 2 Timothy. If we have died with Christ, we will also live with Him. This means more than undergoing a ritual but embracing this dying and rising as a way of life. 

If we endure — and that means patience and constancy — we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, we can expect that He will deny us, for He does not force Himself on anyone. 

But He is always faithful, even if we are not. He cannot deny Himself and we are always part of Him. Our lives must conform to the pattern of life that Jesus revealed in Himself.

Healing can take many forms. The 10 lepers approached Jesus and stood far off, not daring to violate the boundaries established by society. Leprosy was feared and sufferers were isolated from normal human interaction. 

The 10 lepers begged Jesus for mercy, which He readily granted — they were healed. Amazingly, only one of them came back to thank Jesus. He was beside himself with joy and gratitude. Even Jesus was astounded, wondering what happened to the other nine. Why did they not respond in a similar way? 

Jesus certainly healed all 10, but the nine possibly were healed in body only. Once they saw that they were healed, they went about their lives. 

The one man, however, seemed to take the spiritual healing energies of Jesus into his heart and soul. He was healed on a deeper level and his spiritual awareness was transformed. He was filled with wonder at the power and graciousness of God. 

We receive according to our capacity and willingness to receive. But our encounter with God should not mean continuing just as before. This man was also a Samaritan — an outsider — but he received much more than the other nine. God does not recognize labels, only the disposition of the heart and mind. 

Let us pray for more than physical healing and deliverance from difficult situations. A prayer for transformation and a deeper spiritual understanding can fill us with the joy and gratitude of our Samaritan friend.