Monday, March 12, 2007

Doing small things for God

Today's First Reading tells of the story of the Syrian general Naaman, the leper who was healed by the Prophet Elisha. This great and victorious general was told by his wife's Israelite servant girl that a prophet in Israel could heal him of his disease and so he set forth with great riches and a resolve to do whatever it takes to be healed.

But when he finally came to the Prophet's house, Elisha only sent out his servant to tell the great general to simply dip himself 7 times in the Jordan and he would be healed. The general took off in a huff, insulted. He had expected to perform mighty tasks for God, to prove himself worthy of being healed. He had expected to pay tribute to show his generosity. He had expected to be tested in some great way. But all the Lord had asked of him was a little humility and obedience, to take a simple dip in a river.

Naaman's pride was hurt by this and he was slighted that the Lord did not want to test him, to try his resolve. And so he left.
How often have we found ourselves in Naaman's shoes? Many of us pledge to obey the Lord in big things, to offer our lives for the Lord, to die for Him if need be. Some of us even aspire to martyrdom. Sometimes, I hear myself say to the Lord, 'Choose me Lord, use me for Your Kingdom, send me to spread the Gospel. I lay down my life for You.'

Then I hear the Lord answer me. 'Love your neighbour. Forgive your enemies. See the good in others.' And I can't do it.

'Sorry, Lord', I say. But gimme something big, something grand and I'll prove myself to You. Try me Lord.' But He says 'No. Do something small for Me first. Don't offer your life just yet. Start with your pride. Say sorry. Forgive.'

How easy it is for us to promise to lay down our lives, to die for the Lord. But how hard it is for us to live according to His precepts. Perhaps, in some ways, it is easier to die for the Lord than to live for Him. Dying is easy. Lay down your head and get it chopped off. But living, daily carrying your cross, obeying Him in the simple(!?) things like loving your enemies, saying sorry, forgiving. It's so much harder, isn't it?

Let's get back to Naaman. Naaman's servant told him 'If the Lord had asked something difficult of you, you would have done it in a flash, wouldn't you? So, since he is asking something simple, why don't you just do it?' And so Naaman did, he swallowed his pride, dipped himself 7 times in the Jordan as Elisha had instructed and was completely healed.

So, perhaps we can take a leaf out of Naaman's book and do the seemingly simple, daily tasks that the Lord asks of us and pray that we are not put to greater tests than we can endure.

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