Mark 1: 29-39
Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew’s house, accompanied by James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.
That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door! He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn’t let them say a word.
While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”
Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons.
We might not be that bothered when someone in our family has a fever - unless they’re very young, very old, or already in poor health, we know the doctor can give them medicine to get rid of the bug and bring down their temperature. So, in most cases, with proper care, they’ll be fine quite soon. In Capernaum in Jesus’s time, it was different. A fever could kill you. It would terrify the family. Today, in many parts of the world, that’s still the case. So when (Simon) Peter’s mother in law had a fever, her family knew it could be fatal.
Peter and his brother Andrew shared their worries for her with Jesus, and as soon as they told him, he went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. She got better instantly, and started preparing food.
At this point, people who know me would expect me to say: ”Typical! She’s a woman, so she's expected to get off her deathbed and start handing round vol-au-vents”. They’d be surprised to find I don’t see it like that!
When we’re very sick, all we want is “to get back to normal”. Apart from feeling ill, it's really depressing to know you can’t do what you usually do. Feeling helpless, knowing you can’t look after yourself, or the people around you if you have family and work responsibilities, can add to physical illness in ways we may not realise if we’ve been lucky enough to be healthy ourselves.
As soon as she is healed by Jesus, Peter’s mother in law (sadly, we don’t know her name!), is able to "get back to normal". She’s the busy head of a household, so she gets back in charge of things and looks after her family and guests. She’s no longer helpless.
She serves ....
Jesus tells us he has come to serve, not to be served; that’s the example he gives us. Peter’s mother in law is one of the first people in the Gospel who follows that example.
Jesus carries on serving the people who need him all that night, curing people of their illnesses and driving out evil spirits. Afterwards, he goes off alone to pray. When his disciples come and find him, he has made a decision: it’s time for him to take his message to other places and reach more people.
His time alone in prayer helped him to see what he had to do next, and gave him the strength to do it.
Salesian Communications Worker
We bring our worries to you.
We know you can help us.
Hear our prayers for ourselves
and for those we love.
Help us make good decisions
and light our path
through the muddles of life.