Those weren’t lepers in today’s readings. They were sightless—blind as Helen Keller. But by God’s grace, some were given visibility of who they were in relation to God—and to their neighbors. And like Helen Keller, their breakthrough moment was the realization that they weren’t alone in the dark—that there were others in the world with them who had names, identities and feelings of their own. And as some of those blind souls in today’s readings discovered, there is a miracle worker they should come to know.
“I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the Lord,” Naaman, the leper in today’s first reading from the Book of Kings, told Elisha. His eyes were opened to the fact that he was idolizing the wrong father.
Like Helen Keller, before a miracle worker helped them make some key connections within their solitary confinement, they were prisoners to themselves—as Paul acknowledged in the second reading:
“Such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen.”
Before Paul was chosen he couldn’t relate to anybody but himself and those who shared his dark environment. That’s why it was so easy for him to lash out and persecute others as he did. But through God’s grace, Paul’s soul was set free to preach the gospel to all human beings and set their souls free as well. In the same way, those “lepers” in today’s readings were freed of their physical limitations so they could be a sign of God’s grace to others.
But some were blind to that message, as Luke made clear in his gospel. Jesus cured ten of leprosy, but nine chose not to see their miracle worker. In fact the real miracle wasn’t that the skin of all ten was suddenly made flawless, but that one came back with the wisdom of how this happened—and to thank God for it. He was blessed with the insight that only faith could provide—and as Jesus said, this faith was his salvation. The nine others might have left with nice skin, but they were still lost in the darkness underneath it.