Prepare to listen. Be still and silent in preparation to hear the Gospel. When ready, pray: I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15)
Read Mark 1:29-31
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
From the Capernaum synagogue, Jesus goes into the family home of Peter and Andrew. From this story we learn Peter was married with his own family. Leaving the family fishing business to follow Jesus was costly, not just for Peter and Andrew, but for the extended family who relied on their steady daily income from the fishing trade.
Healing Peter’s mother-in-law is the first healing of a physically sick person in Mark’s Gospel. You’d think attention would focus on Jesus, but, read again the end of the story and notice attention is on the healed older woman’s immediate act of service and not Jesus. She did what disciples are supposed to do; she served Jesus and others, putting her needs to one side. None of the four fishermen who obediently followed Jesus stepped up to serve, the way a disciple should. She alone takes on the role of servant and thus of disciple.
Many people see the woman’s act of service as nothing more than a sign of total healing. But I think Mark has highlighted her service deliberately, not merely to demonstrate her healing, but to put forward a woman who understood the rightful role of a disciple. Women then (and still today) were marginalized and forced out to the periphery. Mark gives us a picture of Jesus who acted against common practice by periodically turning the spotlight on women, and other marginalized folk, because they often appear to understand what Jesus’ male disciples failed to; that the disciple’s primary role was that of servant. Peter’s mother-in-law, whom Mark doesn’t name, is the first example in his Gospel of one who grasped what it means to be a disciple of Jesus—“the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”
The fact that we don’t know this woman’s name means we can put ourselves in her shoes. I invite you to do so now. Imagine being so feverish you can only lie about. Jesus, at the request of your family, heals you. What do you think your first act might be?
As in other healing miracles, the sick woman was brought to Jesus’ attention by others. Notice this as you read further in Mark and wonder what challenge it presents to you today.
Respond to Jesus in prayer
This, Jesus, is one of many nameless women and men, who got discipleship right. Help me today to hold her up as an example of how to live and so be your servant to day. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world as a servant of Jesus.