Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Lectionary Reflection Year B, Sixth Epiphany Year C, Proper 23 (RCL) Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading

2 Kings 5:1-15: Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, "If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, "Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel."

He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, "When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy." When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me."

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, "Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel." So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha's house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean." But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, "I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?" He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, "Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, `Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel."

Reflection on 2 Kings 5:1-15 by the Rev Wanda Copeland

Naaman, "though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy." Naaman wanted to be cured of his leprosy, though he was incredulous at how easy it was to be healed. All he had to do was go and wash in the river as Elisha has commanded. How often do we find it hard to believe that we can slow or stop environmental damage by the little things we do? We think the cure must be complex, that we need to stand face to face with God and have God wave the Creators hands over the entire situation for there to be any difference. We cannot trust that solutions may be straightforward and as obvious as they seem. Look around and trust that simple things can result in profound and substantial rejuvenation.


The Rev Wanda Copeland is a rector of Holy Trinity Church, Elk River, MN, and Co-chair of the Environmental Stewardship Commission. She originally wrote this reflection in 2000. Wanda and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Wanda Copeland or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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