Greetings in the Lord!
How do we know we are sick, or ill? Symptoms. Diseases, both physical and moral, have causes, symptoms, and outcomes. In our first reading Naaman, a ruler from Syria, would have discovered one day that something just wasn't right with him. Maybe a rash, a boil, a numbness, or swelling. As the symptoms became clearer, he would havehad to come to the Woeful realization that he was a leper, that he had leprosy.
The outcome of leprosy was the rotting of the flesh, while still alive. The effect of leprosy would have been isolation from his family and friends and eventually the entire community. Lepers were forced to live apart from the general population. So, the pains of the disease aside, lepers felt abandonment, shame, and extreme loneliness.
Leprosy had become a sign for grave sin, which in the spiritual life, has the same effect. Sin alienates us from Christ and the community, i.e. the Church, the mystical body of Christ, and ends in spiritual death.
For Naaman in the first reading, and the ten men in our Gospel, it was a painful day for each to acknowledge "I am a leper." It is a painful moment for a man or woman having to admit"I am a sinner."
Naaman teaches us obedience to faith. He sought out Elisha the prophet and trusted his words, but not with out some persuasion from his companions. The ten lepers in the Gospel trusted in the words of Jesus and obeyed his order to show themselves to the priests. (Under the Law of Moses, lepers who may have been cured must show themselves to the priests, who were trained to spot any symptom of leprosy, and be declared clean). They heard the words of God, trusted, acted on that faith, and they were healed!
Naaman teaches us gratitude. Naaman found more than just a physical healing, he found healing for his soul, he foundeternal life. He declared "Now know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel... I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except the Lord." (c.f. 2 Kings 5:14-17.) His gratitude led him to desire a relationship with this One, True, God.
The Samaritan leper who returned to Jesus was likewise prompted by his gratitude to return and praise God.
It is interesting that there were ten who were healed, but only one who came back to thank Jesus. That's 10% of those who were cured. We should note that 10% is roughly the number of Catholics in the Western world who come to give thanks to God each week at the Holy Mass.
Jesus, loves them, and desires them, but he does say: "Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?"
We too, have so much to be grateful for; so much for which to "throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus as we give praise to God. May learn from Naaman, and the Samaritan leper to listen, to trust, to have faith, and to act on that faith, to live by that faith. Then, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading, we "may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory."
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona