Monday, March 12, 2012

The Naaman Problem

Note: I've been away from the blog for a few days, because I had to say farewell to my 11 1/2 yr. old corgi Bartholomew.

Looking at today's first reading it dawned on me that perhaps Christianity in the modern age has the same problem as Elisha the Prophet. Naaman is sent by his master to Elisha to be cured of his leprosy. The problem- Elisha tells him to go wash in the river, period. No incantations, no jumping around, just wash in the Jordan. It was too simple. Naaman is livid. He wants more.

Even as we see our church attending population aging, turn on your television and every network now has some program about the supernatural. Magic is everywhere. Why the disconnect?

On the one hand there is something inside the human soul that knows there is more to life than what the world of science and math studies. On the other hand Christianity is too simple. Even in Catholic circles there are those who think the present way of celebrating the sacraments too simple.

We are like Naaman, we think it ought to be hard; it ought to be complicated.

What we can forget is that while we participate and are the recipients of God's grace, we are not or should not be the focal point of the action. It is always God who is the primary actor.

God called us to take simple elements like water and with simple words like "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" makes them the source of healing and new life.

It's not magic; it's grace.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, "I absolve you of your sins..."
In Confirmation, "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit"

The sacraments are simple because there foundation is simple, God's love for us.

We only need to embrace the simple truth.