Monday, March 08, 2010

Far, far away?

I've always liked the story of Naaman the Syrian from the Elisha cycle in 2 Kings, and today's liturgy brings it to us not once, but twice: in the first reading and in the Gospel. The point today isn't about healing, though: it's about God's far-reaching generosity, and how easily we can miss that forest for the trees, because we expect something different.
Naaman was ready to reject the prophet's message that he would find healing in the Jordan River. That was just too ordinary! Naaman had a very clear image of just how a miraculous healing should take place. It involved the holy man and loud invocations and wild gestures. It did not involve a bare-bones message sent through a third party, much less a mere bath in a river that, to Naaman's mind, wasn't all that impressive a body of water.
And so Naaman almost missed out on his miracle.
The people of Nazareth missed out completely on theirs.
And how many Catholics are at risk of missing out on what the Church tradition has to offer, whether in its mystical tradition or in its heritage of service or the mysticism of the liturgy itself, because it is so very familiar that they can't recognize it for what it is? The foreign automatically carries an air of mystery: we know we don't know all about it, and so we invest it with a great deal of credibility. But the familiar? It doesn't always command as much respect. (We know it! Or we think we do...)
Was there something you thought you knew about Catholicism that ended up really surprising you--and making a difference in your life?
How did you really come to "know" it?
What difference has that made?

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