Mark 1:29-39 NRSVue
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.
32That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed by demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons, and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” 39And he went throughout all Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
Despite their brief acquaintance with Jesus, the disciples grasped that Jesus is empowered by the Spirit. His first act of healing is in favour of a woman. Healed of her fever, Peter’s mother-in-law embodies true discipleship – the service of others.
Lord, deliver me from seeking your help only in times of difficulty. May I grow in grateful love for the ways you daily raise me up and call me to the service of the community.
It is intriguing to think of Saint Peter as married, giving a home to his wife’s mother, and probably (according to an early tradition), the father of children. After this incident, the gospel makes no further reference to Peter’s wife, children or other relations; but the story gives us a fresh perspective on the first leader of the church.
/Very early, while it was still night, Jesus went to a lonely place and prayed./ Lord, no matter how pressing the demands of other people, you needed to refresh yourself in communion with the Father. Give me the same taste for prayer, for recovering my strength by turning to God.
There is a lovely moment where Jesus touched the hand of Simon's mother-in-law and she is healed of fever - maybe a malaria type illness or influenza. Behind the gesture there is more than healing - there is calling. She then ministered to them - the word is the word for the work of a deacon in the early church. From the beginning Jesus is doing something new - involving women intimately in his ministry as he would always do. Boundaries of gender didn't exist for Jesus. All are equal in dignity, all are called to serve. Have you ever been surprised by the person who ministered the grace of God to you? Are you surprised that Jesus takes you, weakness and all, by the hand and calls you to service?
In your prayer you might watch Jesus lifting up Simon's unnamed mother-in-law. She is the representative of every man and woman who came into Jesus' life.