Two weeks ago I shared how my eleven year-old son and I were beginning to study Matthew's Gospel. Last night we read the beginning of chapter three, where Matthew sketches the life and ministry of John the Baptist. My son was of course fascinated with John. Seriously, what is there for an eleven year old boy not to love? Living off the land, clothed in camel hair, eating locusts! The guy is awesome. For slightly deeper commentary we turned to Dr. Edward Sri's Mystery of the Kingdom, where we read about the significance of John baptizing in the River Jordan - the river that parted to allow Joshua and the Israelites into the Promised Land, where Elijah was assumed into heaven and Elisha succeeded him as prophet, and in whose waters Naaman the Syrian was healed of his leprosy. We talked about how Elijah was supposed to return to prepare the people for the "day of the Lord," read the prophecy in Malachi, and then how Jesus identified John the Baptist as the prophesied Elijah.
But it was Naaman who most caught my son's attention "I want to know more about Naaman's leprosy. Were his nose or fingers rotting off?" I went ahead and flipped to 2 Kings and read him the full account. (Truth told, he may have been let down by the stark details; I'm sure I deflated him with the tidbit about "leprosy" being a catch-all term for skin conditions at that time.) As we read the account, he was wowed nonetheless at the power God displayed through Elisha. Then we had to go back and look at how Elijah passed his ministry on to Elisha - another awesome story. It was a blast. And we were able to make a connection to the litany of saints we pray each morning on the drive to school. "You're discovering what incredible men the prophets were. That's why they're in our morning prayers - 'Elijah, John the Baptist, and all the prophets - pray for us!'"