In the Lectionary

Sunday, October 10, 2010: 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19

The reading from 2 Kings tells us about Naaman, commander of the Syrian army and a leper. When Naaman heard about the prophet Elisha through one of his wife's maids, he sought out the prophet and arrived at his house with a full entourage.

For unspecified reasons, Elisha did not meet the Syrian commander personally but told him, through a messenger, to wash himself in the Jordan. Naaman was offended. The cure seemed foolish, he felt inconvenienced, and Elisha's ignorance of protocol was outrageous. Servants gently told Naaman to take the advice, and sure enough, he was cured—and humbled. He returned to Elisha, entourage in tow, and affirmed "that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel."

In our Gospel lesson, the ten lepers called to Jesus as he entered a village in the area between Samaria and Galilee. As with Naaman and Elisha, Jesus did not meet directly with the men but told them to "show yourselves to the priests." They complied, perhaps pleased with any advice and attention. Not all biblical healings involve a command to follow an instruction—a call to obedience—but in these two stories, healing came as the result of the person's willingness to do something that on first sight might seem ir­relevant.