If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? 

Somewhere along the line, you’ve probably heard of the “KISS” principle: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart! (Though you may have seen other variations for the final “S”!) That principle might be a good way to understand today’s first reading.

Naaman was a successful leader in a culture known for its elaborate customs and strict hierarchy. So being afflicted with leprosy threatened not just his health but his social status as well. Surely he had tried complicated cures and rigorous remedies, but none had worked. What would this Israelite prophet recommend?

Naaman had probably pictured how this transaction should play out. There would be formal greetings and an exchange of gifts befitting a foreign dignitary. But instead, Elisha snubs him by not even coming to the door. Compounding the insult, the holy man tells him to wash in the less-than-impressive Jordan River. He didn’t come all this way for this! Where was the elaborate ritual? The exotic ointment? The sacrifice of purification? It was insultingly simple!

Lent is a time for us to seek a deeper, stronger relationship with the Lord, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Perhaps we attack Ash Wednesday with a heroic regimen of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We sense that we won’t be able to sustain it, but we try to keep it up anyway, hoping it will bear awesome fruit. We may even have a list of ideas of how the Lord should reward our piety.

But God’s grace is so accessible that we just have to ask for it. Our elaborate prayers don’t change God. It’s quite the opposite. When we come to him with humility and simplicity, he changes us. More than anything else, Jesus is looking for hearts that are open and ready to receive his word and act on it. He is looking for people who are willing to transform their everyday lives simply by welcoming him to be a part of them.

So set aside the complexities on this Lenten journey. Set aside time to simply be with Jesus. He just wants to be near you.

“Jesus, let me simply follow you today!”

2 Kings 5:1-15
Psalm 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4
Luke 4:24-30


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