Monday, March 28, 2011

A "clean" bill of health

We welcomed Sr Lusia home yesterday after more than three months of cancer surgery, treatments, etc. So far, the doctors have given her a clean bill of health, and she is determined to do her part to keep it that way.
Today's readings are about a "clean" bill of health, too! Actually, Naaman the Syrian is one of my favorite biblical characters. I think I just like his unvarnished honesty. When the prophet told him to just bathe seven times in the Jordan to be healed of leprosy,  he did not hide his disgust. What a stupid suggestion! Bathe in the Jordan?! A Syrian with any sense of pride wouldn't even consider that a river. No, Naaman did not seek cleansing of his leprosy from a mere bath: he expected grandiose gestures, maybe some incantations... the whole prophetic package.
So, it would seem, did the people of Nazareth. The local boy who stood up to do the reading that Sabbath day was so...ordinary. And there he was, proclaiming that the Scriptures they had just heard (from the visionary prophet Isaiah, now there was a man of God!), were fulfilled in their very hearing, right before their eyes.
Naaman and the people of Nazareth faced a stumbling block because of their expectations.
I find the same thing happening to me more often than I'd like to admit.

The question is not whether expectations are good or bad in themselves, but whether our expectations are valid. If they are, then rejection of a purported message (or messenger) is appropriate. Our expectations (or standards) should help us recognize the truth, recognize true worth. But what if our criteria themselves are faulty? Where do our expectations come from? What is their basis? What do they presume is the "good" we are looking for? Lent is the perfect season to examine our expectations.

Sad to say for our sense of theatrics, God is not ashamed to work through ordinary and unglamorous means. He doesn't always measure up to our expectations.

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