Wash and be clean
“My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do 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.”
Wash and be clean. Just as I observed yesterday, whenever we read about water we should immediately be attuned to a reference about baptism. As Saint Augustine said, the New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.” And so when we read about Namaan the Syrian today, and his being told to wash and be clean, we should recognize exactly what it is that baptism did for us.
For it is the sacrament that washes us of our brokenness and makes us sons and daughters of God. We are made clean. And with the cleansing of Baptism, we are also reminded just how much it is then that we have to accept of God’s love. As Saint James reminds us, faith without works is dead.
Baptism makes us new, just as the water made the skin of Namaan the Syrian new. We are made new when it is we see the grace of God and what it can do not only in our life, but also in the lives of others.
But there is an even more important lesson we are to learn today. Namaan almost missed the presence of God because he had a preconceived idea of what it meant for God to act in our world. In the sheer ordinariness of the request, Namaan almost closed his ears to the voice of God.
How often is it that we do the same? Hearing the voice of God in the thundercloud seems far more dramatic than caring for the people he has created. Giving a thirsty person a drink? Bah. Feeding the hungry. Bah. Recognizing that it is far more glorious that we give drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry, and in so doing are able to see the glorious God of all eternity? That indeed is magnificent!
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