2 Ki 4-5; Acts 13:13-end; Psalm 110-111
Our readings follow the ‘career’ of Elisha, the prophet who came after Elijah and yet whose work far outstripped that of his predecessor.
In the incident of the healing of the Shunemite’s son – there are of course parallels with the works of Jesus. But here I would stop to consider the means of healing Elisha employs. In the church we have absorbed much of the spirit body duallism of our forebears and this incident seems to some almost distasteful. But in this healing Elisha does not stand at a distance, or even at the bedside and prounce healing. His body is the vessel of the Spirit – it is the vessel of Life. The intimate contact reveals this. Jesus almost always heals by touch. In the church we have Sacraments – the Life is in the Material, the Spirit is in the fleshly.
Perhaps most clearly we see this in Confirmation and Ordination neither of which can take place without the laying on of hands – the Spirit cannot be passed on except through the flesh. The Word becomes flesh.
Later we see Elisha so absorbed in God, that he doesn’t even come to the door for Naaman. Whilst Elisha is the vessel for the life of God, it is only because his life is consciously devoted to God. He portrays the Great commandment – in loving God with all he has and is, he becomes Love for the neighbour.
To the world, the one who is God’s servant will always seem unduly preoccupied with God, but that is only because for most of us, we are preoccupied with anything but the Life and Love of God.
And no, it is not a matter of balance. Love the Lord your God with All you have and All you are.