The whole Naaman story is easily read for context. The main point is about the foreign general, indeed an enemy of the northern kingdom of Israel, coming to the God of Israel. The lepers in the gosepl are also identified as Samaritans, enemies of the Jewish peoples, considered foreigners.

Thanksgiving, by way of physically returning in person to offer the thanks, also complements the Gospel. In the Gospel the word for thanksgiving is ευχαριστειν, which is in English, “eucharist.”

Our own contemporary tribalism presents an obstacle for us. We want to think only what is comfortable for ourselves to think. New thoughts, differences, negativity and the like are very difficult for many people. The average American cannot understand why the whole rest of th world doesn’t just become like us! Other foods, clothing, languages, lifestyles, philosophies, cultures, values are all considered inferior to the so called American way. We are a nation of deep seated prejudices and bigotries.

Just as Elisha and the northern king Joram, son of King Ahab and jezebel, received naaman with deep suspicions, it is the same with us. We live in very skeptical times.

Naaman is grateful for the cure and satisfied only to have two mule loads of earth. Divinities in the ancient world were connected to the physical land over which they were thought to hold sway.

The theme in Psalm 98 celebrates the new universal scope of God’s salvation. Of course, every nation rejoicing in their own songs to the Lord for some would be cacophony, but perhaps there is some strange superseding harmony and concord in this “new song.”

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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