Most of the readings this Sunday referenced healing.While Psalm 30 appears to be in the voice of one recently healed , giving praise, it may have been used metaphorically at the dedication of the temple in 146 bc , as the voice of the restored Hebrew people. Some of the commentaries for this day draw the parallel between physical healing and restoration to community which would work in the psalm also. The narrator tells God that he’s better off with a living person to praise Him than a shadow-being under the earth. As A.B. says, what is life for but to praise the divine. Isn’t the divine better off with a religious people and a temple than not?
2 Kings 5:1-14 PC pointed out the irony of the Syrian leader going to Israel to be cured. She also remarked on the thousands of years that there had been a tense relationship between the two countries. Naaman considered his Syrian rivers to be equal to any in Israel, and in fact they were probably cleaner. CB pointed out that the Syrian didn’t like being told what to do by a messenger and not the prophet himself. Which brought us to the idea of status standing between healing and illness. AD said that the lowly Hebrew servant girl who lived in Syria suggested that Naaman go to the Hebrew God to cure his leprosy . There might be a lesson here about healing coming from unexpected places, dirty rivers and people of low status in the community.
1Corinthians9:24-27 deviates from the healing theme though it does raise the idea of the physical vs spiritual bodies. We wished DC had been present to talk about the Greek “Isthmian Games” which were held in Corinth and which Paul was referencing in this letter. We discussed how we, on a spiritual quest, need to be in training to achieve the ” imperishable wreath”. One commentary on this reading refers to Gladwell’s Outliers about outstanding people. All of their achievement, he says, are due to two facts: an opportunity opened up to them that they were committed to take, and at least 10,000 hours of practice in the kinds of skills that would enable them to take that opportunity. All of us who listen and think about spiritual matters and how God would shape our lives have been in training for the daily opportunities to do “great things’.
Mark 1:40-45 Jesus heals the leper and tells him to keep it a secret. CB suggested that Jesus must have known someone cured of such a terrible disease would have told everyone he met. PG had read that Jesus may have been considered unclean because he touched the leper. Becoming ineligible to teach in the synagogues, he resorted to teaching in the open countryside. In that way he became more accessible to a larger range of people, and people of less status. We talked about the need to go to the priests to be declared clean. CB pointed out that John Wesley was like Jesus in that he preached in the fields (or mills or market places) but then sent people back to the Church of England. Jesus didn’t break from Judaism any more than Wesley left the C of E. They just took the message where it might be heard. We also remembered that in last week’s healing story Jesus chose to go off alone and travel on. Healing was only an indication of the presence of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was not just a wonder worker but had more to teach and show.