Saved to serve- Wednesday, 1st week in ordinary time-Mark 1: 29-39

Healing of Peter`s Mother in law, 1660 – Rembrandt

Saved to serve- Wednesday, 1st week in ordinary time- Mark 1: 29-39

Jesus has an eventful day in Capernaum. This little town was established in the 2nd century BC during the Hasmonean period, when a number of new fishing villages sprung up around the lake. It is here that Jesus makes quite an impression in the synagogue with his preaching and the healing of a man with an unclean spirit. Now, along with his four disciples, He makes his way to the home of Simon and Andrew.

It is not clear if Simon’s mother –in-law’s fever was known even to Simon. Did he call Jesus over to heal her or just invite the Master to be a guest and then to his horror discover her to be ill? Fevers were no small illness in the time of Jesus for many of them were fatal.

Having cured a man a few minutes ago, He now cures a woman and the detail is not lost on me. We are told that Peter’s mother-law was ‘taken by the hand and lifted’ and at once she began to serve ‘them’. Her healing is swift and complete. In gratitude, she did not serve only Him but  she serves them. The verb is diakoneo, the same verb Jesus uses to describe the essence of his own ministry in Mark 10:45. It is “to serve” rather than “to be served” that characterizes the Christ of God

Healings are never for our sake. A reading of the miracles of Jesus always point to the greater reality of healing; it is so that God may be glorified. Here the healing has a double dimension; that this unnamed woman would serve God and the community. Her gratitude to God is reflected in her service of all.

Harkening back to the previous miracle that took place a brief while back; no mention of service or gratitude is made of the man who was healed. He simply seems to have disappeared. Peter’s mother in law on the contrary has chosen to stay back and serve the one who saved her and serve the community. Do I need to labour the point for our own reflection?

But her service does not end there. We are told that by sundown they had brought to Him all who were sick and possessed with demons and the whole city was gathered at her doorstep.  We know through archaeological evidence that the town had a population of 1,500 people. Having received much she now gives much, making her home the refuge of those who chose to seek Jesus’ healing touch. This home now became a make shift hospital and Peter’s mother in law the head nurse. Perhaps this home whose doors she opened to Jesus’ ministry, remained for a long time, the centre for Jesus’ activity.

There is no more mention of Peter’s mother in law. We don’t know her name; we don’t know what became of her. Perhaps she was one of the unnamed women who stood at the foot of the cross. But what we do know of her is how the Lord would have wanted us to remember her, that she served.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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