Monday, January 19, 2009

The Great General and The Little Girl

(based on 2 Kings, 5: 1-15)

Naaman was a great General. He won a great battle for his king, the King of Aram.
In the battle, Naaman’s soldiers took many treasures.
The soldiers took cows and chickens, sheep and horses, and gold and swords and chariots. When they got near home, in among all their treasures, they found something else. They found a little girl from Israel.
The soldiers showed Naaman, the General, the cows and chickens, the sheep and horses, the gold, the swords, and the chariots. Then, they showed him the little girl.
Naaman, the General, divided the treasures - many for his King, some for himself, and some for his soldiers.
Then, Naaman, the General, said, “I will give the little girl to my wife. She can be her slave girl.”
When Naaman’s wife looked at the little girl, she said, “How pretty! You can serve my tea. You can comb my hair. And you can sing me a song when I am tired.”
The little slave girl remembered her mother, her father, and her brothers and sisters. They had called her by her name, but now she was only called, “Slave girl.” She was far from her land and her family, but she remembered them and how they prayed to the only true God.
Every day, the little slave girl served her mistress, Naaman’s wife. She served her mistress tea. She combed her mistress’ long, beautiful hair, And sometimes she sang her a song.
Then, one day, when the little slave girl, went to serve her mistress, the mistress was very sad.
It’s dangerous for a slave girl, when her mistress is sad. The mistress could get angry. She could ask Naaman, the General, to bring his sword and cut off the head of the slave girl.
The mistress was sad because Naaman, the General, was sick. He had a terrible disease called leprosy. It was eating away at him.

The slave girl served her mistress tea. She combed her mistress’ long, beautiful hair. She sang her mistress a song. But the mistress remained very sad. She lay on her bed and cried and cried.
Then, the little slave girl did a brave thing. Very quietly she said, “If only the master would present himself to the prophet of the only true God, he would cure him of his leprosy.”
The mistress sat up on her bed. She looked at the little slave girl. All her attendants looked at the little slave girl.
When Naaman, the General heard what the little slave girl said, he went and stood before the King of Aram. “My Lord, King,” he said. “The slave girl says there is a prophet of the only true God, who can cure my illness.”

The prophet’s name was Elisha, and he lived in Samaria.
“Go,” said the King of Aram. “I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” Naaman set out with the letter, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces and ten festal garments.
The little slave girl prayed by her bed that night as she did every night!
Naaman traveled through the desert and the mountains and the valleys to the King of Israel.

When the King of Israel read the letter from the King of Aram, he tore his garments and shouted. “Who does he think I am? I can’t cure his leprosy. It’s a trick.”
When Elisha, the great prophet, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, Elisha sent word to the king of Israel: “Now why have you done that? Send that General to me. Let him find out that the only, true God is with us.”
So the King of Israel sent Naaman, the General, to the house of Elisha, the prophet. Naaman and all his soldiers drove the horses and the chariots to the door of Elisha’s house. Naaman wanted to see and talk to the prophet, but the prophet wouldn’t come out of his house.
Instead, the prophet sent out a message, “Go, take seven baths in the River Jordan. And you will be cured.”
Naaman, the General, got very angry. He probably thought that little slave girl at home had played a trick on him. The River Jordan is a muddy river. The Rivers in his own land were fed by mountain springs.

Naaman, the General said, “The rivers in my land are clean and beautiful, better than all the rivers of Israel”
After all, Naaman, the General, had come with a letter from the King of Aram. A letter from a king is important. Naaman thought the prophet should have come out of his house and put his hand on his wound and healed him.

Naaman, the General, was angry. Most of his servants were afraid. One brave servant said, “But Master, why not wash in the Jordan? If the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, you would have done it.”
Naaman, the General, thought about this. Then he went down to the River Jordan and he splashed in and out seven times.
When he came out the seventh time, he was all clean and his leprosy was gone.
Then Naaman, the General, with all his servants and soldiers and horses and chariots returned to Elisha, the man of God.

Naaman, the General, said, “Now I know there is no God in all the earth, except your God.”
When the little slave girl learned of Naaman’s cure, she praised God with all her heart.
I hope Naaman, the General, sent her back to her own country to be with her mother, and father, and brothers and sisters. She was a brave little girl, who knew that the God of her people was the only true God. And she wasn’t afraid to say so!

© All rights reserved. Elizabeth V. Roach,2008 all stories and photos on this blog

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Toribio, The Good Judge

Toribio, The Good Judge
Toribio was born on the plains in Spain in the town of Mallorca in a village called Mogrovejo in 1538. When he grew up, he became a lawyer. It was a time when many harsh people were in power, both in government and even in the church. Men and women were imprisoned, tortured and even burned alive. It was called the time of the Inquisition.
Everybody was glad when Toribio, the lawyer, was appointed a judge, because he was known as just, and fair, and merciful.
Then, one day, King Philip II, Prince of the Asturias, ruler of all Spain in Europe and in the Americas, needed a fair person in his colonies. He asked the Pope to make Toribio a bishop. Soon, Toribio was named Archbishop of Lima, Peru and of all the King’s colonies from Ecuador to Argentina.
Toribio had to cross the Atlantic Ocean, travel overland to cross the continent, then sail again in the Pacific Ocean. When, at last, he arrived, all the King’s agents welcomed him. Everyone wanted to be near Toribio, a friend of the King and the Pope.
Some were afraid, because Toribio had served as a judge of the terrifying Inquisition, but Toribio had been a good inquisitor who saved many people from unjust treatment.
The viceroy, the King’s number one man, expected Toribio to settle all his difficulties. Toribio did what he could for the Viceroy, but he remembered that the Pope had made him archbishop of all the people from Ecuador to Argentina.
Toribio set out to visit everyone. He climbed mountains. He walked up and down valleys. He crossed rivers and rode horses. He rode mules, and he also walked and walked and walked. He visited all the King’s Colonies. He visited what we now call Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. He may have passed through Paraguay, too. He visited, not once, but twice in many places.
Spanish military, church and civil authorities who were unjust, greedy, or cruel, trembled when Toribio visited their towns and villages. They were afraid, because Toribio talked to everyone and went everywhere. And Toribio did see that, in many places, the native peoples were treated badly by the Spaniards.
Toribio thought about the way people were treated. It made him sad, and he decided to do something about it. First, he ordered his priests to treat everyone with respect, Spaniards and Native Peoples alike. He ordered them to show special kindness, and to share whatever they had with the poor. He insisted that priests were to live holy lives according to the teachings of Jesus.
To make certain the priests understood, he called them all to a great meeing, called The Second Synod of Lima where he spoke to them about all the things they were to do. People didn’t have two cars those days, but some had two mules. Toribio said if a priest needed a mule, he was to have only one. If he had two, he was to give it away or sell it to help the poor.
Toribio founded a seminary to train priests the way he wanted them to be. Almost 450 years later, he is still remembered. The Seminary in Lima, Peru is named for him.
Toribio was not satisfied with telling the priests to be kind. He wanted the people to know what Jesus taught. In those days to print anything, it was necessary to have permission from the King. The King was far away in Spain. Toribio knew the law, but he didn’t wait for any permission. He printed the first catechism in the New World. And he printed it in three languages, Spanish, Quechua and Aymara. The latter are two of the languages of the Native Peoples of Peru.
Toribio insisted so much on the rights of native peoples that he became known as the Defender of The Indigenous. Indigenous means native. Indigenous people are the people native to an area or a country, the first people to live there. Toribio was so good and kind, that the Catholic Church calls him a Saint. So, if you are every treated unfairly, remember Toribio, the good lawyer, and insist on fair treatment for yourself and everyone else.

The feast of St. Toribio is celebrated on March 23.
Toribio is his Spanish name.
In Latin, his name is Turibius
© All rights reserved for stories and photos, Elizabeth V. Roach 2008