Lectionary resources for worship, faith formation, and service
The memorial to US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt shows him in a wheelchair, although that was not the original plan. The original plans called for him being depicted in a chair with a blanket over his lap, hiding the wheels, because that was how he appeared in real life. Due to polio contracted as a child, FDR spent much of his adult life in a wheelchair.
The tension for the designers of his official memorial was over depicting him the way he was, as opposed to the way he appeared. And in turn the bigger questions become things such as, “would FDR ‘hide’ his wheelchair today?” or “would he have been elected then, or would he be elected now, if everyone knew he were in a wheelchair?”
Wouldn’t it be great if it didn’t matter?
Wouldn’t it be great if people didn’t notice?
The story of Naaman being healed carries with it many, many lessons. It is a rich story.
One of those lessons is about how people are, and how they appear. The story begins by saying, “Naaman was a very important person. But he had leprosy.” I can’t help reading it along the lines of “Naaman was very important, but he wasn’t perfect.”
Is that a surprise? Hardly. It’s a true statement about every person who ever lived. We are important. And we are not perfect.
Why is it, then, that we expect that in some people? Or we look to others as if they ought not have the “flaws” that we would overlook in ourselves?
That Naaman was ill was tragic, and is the setup for the rest of the story. If we didn’t know it, the story would not make sense. But it is a reminder that too often we can judge people based on one simple piece, and in fact we can let it cloud everything else about them. A person’s gender, or race, or financial standing, or sexual orientation, or education can often be the sole defining factor. It’s wrong, And it’s sad. A great day will be had when we don’t notice and, even more importantly, don’t care.