I long for lightning bolts but mostly I just get lightbulbs...you know...ordinary, everyday means of light.
I can relate to Naaman in yesterday’s reading at Mass. He was a man of action. He was told that there was a cure for his leprosy and so he went to extraordinary means to search it out. When he finally arrived at the holy man Elisha’s door, the prophet did not even come out to greet him, but simply told him by messenger to go and wash seven times in the Jordan River.
“But...I have horses, chariots, silver, gold and fabulous tunics! I am expecting a CEREMONY!!!”
What an insult! ME!? Just do that? Really! That might be fine for others...but that is just so common, simple and ordinary.
Now, in some ways, I have to agree with Naaman. I have been to the Jordan and it is very unimpressive. It is so muddy and small that one would think you could catch something from it, not be cured by it (see photo above). But never the less, he was told to wash in it.
But not so simple really. What it required was that all important something--faith. A faith that leads to humility. A faith that believes that the ordinary means are enough.
I am asked to have this same simple faith. I am asked to be humble in the same way Naaman was asked.
What are the ordinary means of salvation that God has given to me?
Not huge grandiose visions, lightning bolt revelations, or spectacular miracles, but these: the humble sacraments.
In Baptism it all sweetly begins where we are identified with Christ through His crucifixion, burial and resurrection--raised to new life in Christ and given His Holy Spirit. (And funny enough, it was in this same Jordan River where Naaman was cleansed that about nine-hundred years later, Jesus would come and show us how to be “made new” as well.)
In Confirmation we ratify our calling and are filled to overflowing with His Spirit to enable us to do exceedingly abundantly more-- connected even more profoundly by the sacrament to our Lord.
In Confession, God comes and kisses us with His grace to wipe away our every sin and fill us with His power to conquer those sins, so that when we are tempted to do the same thing again, and again, through His Holy Spirit we can resist and be set free.
And in the Eucharist, we are made one with our Lord and He gives us Himself completely, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. “In the Eucharist, Christ makes us Christ!” Through the bread, His body, we are given the strength needed for endurance for the journey and in the wine, His blood, we are given joy to propel us forwards. Only through Him can we have the perseverance needed to do “all things.”
These are the ordinary means you and I are given. And so, I must not look for something else...another sign. I must not be prideful and wait until later. I must never turn up my nose at God and all He has given to me.
It requires a “simple” faith.
“‘My father,’ they said, ‘if the prophet had told you to so something extraordinary would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” 2 Kings 5:13
I so often seek more, and yet you have given me all I need by ordinary means. Help me to be faithful to do as You tell me. Help me to be happy with what You have given to me of Yourself in the sacraments. If other experiences come... wonderful! You are a God that can do anything! But if I never see lightning bolts, hear voices, or walk on water, please allow the grace of Your presence by ordinary means to be extraordinarily enough for me.
I ask this in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.