Where do we hear God speaking to us? I hope we all think immediately of the bible, the inspired Word of God. Immediately after that we should think of the Mass. After all, God only speaks one Word, Jesus Christ, and we encounter Christ at Mass in the Eucharist. We always begin Mass with readings from Sacred Scripture, to hear God speaking to us in human language. We need to realize, though, that in any Mass the
Scripture readings we get are just a small taste of the entirety of the bible. In our first reading, a guy named Naaman is healed by the prophet Elisha and comes to understand that there is no God except that of Israel (2 Kings 5:14 – 17).
The larger story is compelling (2 Kings 5:1 – 19). This is about 800 some-odd years before the birth of Christ. Israel then had a powerful neighbor, Aram (think modern Syria). Naaman was an important Aramean general, but had horrible skin lesions. Hearing that there was a powerful prophet (Elisha) in Israel, Naaman went there looking for a cure from Elisha with his huge retinue and lots of wealth.
In the background of this story is a serious security threat to Israel. Aram was much more powerful than Israel. Naaman was an important Aramean general. This is a sensitive diplomatic encounter. Nevertheless, when Naaman gets to Elisha, the prophet sends a messenger, doesn’t go himself to see the great general, and says go and dunk yourself in the Jorden river 7 times and you’ll be fine.
Naaman is outraged. He was looking for at least a grand reception, befitting his military rank, if not to be cured by a great miracle. Fortunately, Naaman’s people said to him, “You came all this way, why not give it a try?” Naaman bathes in the Jordan seven times and is cured and understands that this is an act of the all-powerful God of Israel.
Naaman’s experience is recorded as an example for you and me. We often look to God, with frustration, for guidance in the decisions in our lives or help with our problems. We expect something clear and dramatic like Naaman without remembering that some of the familiar, common things in our lives offer a privileged encounter with God. God is, of course, all around us, but He is present most powerfully in the words of Sacred Scripture, the sacraments and community of the Church, most especially, in the Eucharist (Second Vatican Council Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #7). These are day to day realities all around us. The Mass is celebrated every day throughout the world. At Mass, when the words of Jesus Christ are spoken, bread and wine truly become Christ present among His people.
Christ wants to heal and complete our lives. If we pay attention, He will help us to look past the familiar and ordinary so we can hear His Word and experience His presence as a person who cares about us. We need to live the sacramental life of the Church and be part of the praying community. Jesus Christ is the Word of God that we need. We may not always like what we hear, but we need to trust that the He knows what is best for us. We have to listen to, trust, believe, and live that Divine Word.