First Reading: 2 Kings 5:14-17
Change of Skin, Change of Heart
4 Naaman the leper went down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15 He returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him; and he said, "See now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel. Now therefore, please take a gift from your servant."
16 But he said, "As YHWH lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none."
He urged him to take it; but he refused. 17 Naaman said, "If not, then, please let two mules" burden of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will from now on offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice to other gods, but to YHWH."
World English Bible
These three short verses complete the story of the leper Naaman. Before we investigate the story, however, a comment should be made about the ailment. The term "leprosy" is a misnomer, for no archeological evidence can be found that Hansen's disease (what Westerners refer to as "leprosy") existed in Palestine from ancient times. Hence, most scholars believe that "leprosy" loosely referred to series of skin rash ailments. A review of Leviticus 13 indicated that many lepers would recover and rejoin the community, unlike the incurable but treatable Hansen's disease. Very recently, evidence has been found that contemporaries of Jesus had the disease, but the evidence is very limited in scope.
The story actually opened in 2 Kings 5:1 with the discovery of Naaman's ailment and his scepticism. Two lower status characters (Naaman's small Israeli slave girl and his chariot driver) push the proud general into humbling actions. But the shame of visiting a vassal state for a cure and bathing in the muddy waters of a small river reward the soldier with a change. His rough skin turned smooth. [5:14].
The more important change came from within. The arrogance of the soldier turned to gratitude. And his allegiance turned from the gods of his home country to those of a foreign land. Naaman saw the hand of God working, and he believed. [15-17]
Like the Samaritan in the cure of the ten lepers, Naaman had a change of heart in the face of his cure. His conversion challenges us in two ways. Do we see God's miracles in our lives? Do they change us and give us faith? Like these two men, we need to look with hope and be open to the power of God!
When have you seen the power of God working in ways that surprised you? Want happened?