Why does this business of healing have to be a business?
by Michael Danner
Old Testament Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-14
For Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012; Year B—Epiphany 6
When I read, or hear, a healing story, I tend to take the perspective of those who have not experienced healing. Don’t get me wrong, I can celebrate your healing with you in all faith, sincerity and joy! What I can’t do is stop thinking about what it means to those who haven’t been healed.
Here and Now
My questioning disposition not only pertains to supernatural healings, but also the healing that comes through traditional medicine.
When I celebrate your successful open heart surgery with you, and ponder the cost of such miraculous interventions, I can’t help but think of those without access to basic health care who die of preventable diseases. I find it troubling that we can’t do better. I wonder why money, power, privilege and politics have to play such a big part in healing!
Then and There
Imagine my surprise when I read, again, the story of Naaman. Yes, it’s a story of healing. But then, as now, it’s also a story of money, politics, power and privilege.
Part of the story is beautiful. It’s beautiful when Naaman confronts his own fear and pride by submitting to a humiliating cleansing ritual. I can picture the Commander of Aram’s Army, stripping off his armor. With every piece of armor goes a piece of Naaman’s pride. Then, naked before his subordinates, he dips down in the river – not once, or twice, or three times – but seven times.
I wonder if he thought of quitting after the third or fourth time when nothing had changed? I imagine the look of joy on his face when he came up the last time and was healed. God, through Elisha – Israel’s prophet – healed a Gentile military Commander.
Beautiful or Ugly?
Part of the story is ugly
Then I think of how Naaman tried to buy a cure with silver, gold, fine clothes and support from influential people. It reeks of access and privilege and inequity. I think about how Naaman’s healing wouldn’t have happened outside of the context of political power.
It is true; Elisha didn’t take a dime for the healing of Naaman. However, it was money, power and privilege that greased the machine that led Naaman to Elisha’s door step.
I wonder about…
…the man or woman or child who was in need of healing just like Naaman;
…the person that has no gold, silver or fine garments;
…the person that cannot gain a hearing from kings and rulers and power-brokers;
…the person that will never stand at Elisha’s door step as a result of who they know and who they know and who they know and so on.
Where is the hope in this story for them?
The Hardest Question
How does this story offer hope to those who can never get to Elisha’s doorstep the way Naaman did?
Michael Danner is an ordained pastor of the Mennonite Church USA. He serves as Lead Pastor at Metamora Mennonite Church, a rural community on the outskirts of the empire (easy to miss unless you live nearby). When he is not actively engaged in husbanding, fathering, pastoring and blogging he confesses to spending far too much time trying to move objects with his mind…a practice he picked up at church as a kid. To date, it has not worked…but he isn’t giving up. His blog can be found at http://provokelove.net and he can be followed on Twitter @michaeldanner