seventy times seven
"Go and wash seven times." —2 Kings 5:10
Elisha told Naaman to wash seven times to be healed. Likewise, the Church has seven sacraments she offers for us to be healed. Naaman considered the waters of the Jordan River to be ordinary (2 Kgs 5:12). Some Catholics likewise may consider the sacraments ordinary. Yet the sacraments are based on the miraculous. Yes, the sacraments use ordinary materials — bread, water, oil, wine, laying on of hands, human words, and so on. The sacraments involve ritual and can seem somewhat impersonal at first sight (cp 2 Kgs 5:11). Yet the sacraments are deeply personal; it is just that in our pride we may think we are special and deserve extraordinary, "personalized" treatment, as Naaman thought.
However, the sacraments work; they are efficacious. Many leave the Catholic Church because they feel they are not being fed; they go "away angry" (2 Kgs 5:11). Nonetheless, the sacrament of the Eucharist literally and personally feeds each person who receives the Bread of Life.
We have to receive the Sacraments — to immerse ourselves in them, not just take part in them by rote. The sacraments work whether we go through the motions or surrender ourselves to them. Those who receive them in humility and gratitude are likely to remain in them. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord" (see 1 Pt 5:6) and live a sacramental life in Jesus and His Church.
Prayer: Father, I will live to do Your will in Your way, not my will in my way.
Promise: "So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." 2 Kgs 5:14
Praise: Praying and fasting in preparation has made Joan's reception of the Eucharist more meaningful.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 10, 2017
The Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.