Taken but Never Forgotten – July 7, 2019

Namaan’s wife slave girl

Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1-3

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.” 

Reflection: Today’s lectionary reading from 2 King 5:1-14 is primarily about the healing of Namaan, a powerful and prideful military leader from Aram.

The story begins when a young slave girl from Israel serving Naaman’s wife, hears of Naaman’s leprosy – a fungal infection, leukoderma, impetigo, psoriasis, and eczema are all possibilities.

The unnamed slave girl mercifully bore her captor’s burden (Gal. 6:2). She suggests to Namaan’s wife that a prophet from her homeland would cure him. Naaman believes the slave girl’s recommendation passed on through his wife. He travels to Israel with an entourage of servants, silver, gold, and garments to reward the prophet for healing him. Namaan reluctantly obeys the prophet Elisha’s directives and participates in his healing by immersing himself seven times in the Jordan river. His healing led him away from sacrificing to other gods and to worship the Lord God of Israel. He asks Elisha for two-mule loads of dirt from Israel so that he can worship God in his homeland of Aram on Israelite soil.    

While we know to some extent what happened to Namaan, we do not know what happened to the young slave girl. Although nameless, she is a leading figure in the story. It was her recommendation that led Namaan to Israel, Elisha the prophet, his healing, and eventually to Namaan’s faith in the God of Israel.

Like so many nameless young girls, boys, and adults in the world today, the nameless servant girl was taken against her will by force and violence. She was separated and broken away from her family, her friends, her known way of life, and her homeland. Her fate rested in the hands of others who did not have her particular best interest in mind.

I wonder if the young slave girl was treated as a person or a possession? Did she inconsolably cry herself to sleep at nights? Did she wake up in the middle of the night because of nightmares? Did she ever see or speak to her mother or father again?

I can imagine her mother, father, siblings, and friends in Israel – like millions throughout the world today – could only wonder with anguish and uncertainty about her whereabouts and fate, praying that she was still alive and not in danger. The precious moments of watching their daughter grow, laugh and play stolen from them. They are in continual emotional distress, always grieving because to stop grieving is to give up hope of ever seeing their daughter again.

The slave girl in today’s text reminds us of all the children and adults in our world today who are taken, abducted against their will, trafficked, and exploited because of human violence and greed. It also reminds us that God is with them.

Human trafficking is happening all around us. Victims are often hidden away. It’s essential to know how to ‘spot the signs’ of trafficking that could save lives.

For more information on how you can spot the signs of trafficking, respond, and advocate to bring modern slavery to an end, visit the website: http://hopeforjustice.org

A Prayer for the End of Human Trafficking as shared by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, N.J.

God of freedom, beauty and truth
we believe that your deepest desire,
your most powerful energy, 
is that all creation might know abundant life.

We raise our voices in anguished prayer
for our sisters and brothers,
women and girls, men and boys,
who are modern day slaves;
They are your beloved daughters and sons,
exploited sexually or forced to work
because of human violence and greed.

Fill us with your holy anger and your sacred passion
that those who are trafficked might know healing and justice;
that traffickers will come to repentance and conversion;
that all of us might live in such a way
that others are not made to pay the price
for our comfort and convenience.

Hasten the coming of the day when all people
and our precious Earth itself
will be treated, not as a commodity,
but as radiant images of your freedom, beauty and truth.
Amen. May it be so.

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