After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The world is full of contradictions. Religious take vows of poverty, yet often are involved in battles against poverty. Christians follow a Master who renounced all earthly power, and yet a hunger for worldly power and influence are so often seen among Christians. Of course, the way of the Lord is full of ironies. The King of Glory becomes the Servant of all. The richest being in the universe becomes a most helpless infant. Yet, there is no ambiguity in God about these matters. True riches—spiritual riches—naturally go with material poverty. True power—spiritual power—begins where earthly power ends.
It is the service of others that is the defining mark of a disciple of Christ: “as I have done for you” He said, and He was washing their feet, a very lowly task indeed. But in our world, status is defined by having others serve us. To serve others is seen as demeaning, and so it is farmed out to poor immigrants or people who otherwise cannot hire others to be at their beck and call. The model of the mother who serves her husband and family and thereby gives the prime natural model of Christian discipleship is scorned by many today. So much is this the case that I have often wondered why we don’t have bumper stickers that say: “non serviam”—”I will not serve”—the battle cry of Lucifer in Milton’s lost paradise.
Paradise is regained in Jesus, and whomever He touches is returned to the life of God. And so when Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, her joy is shown by naturally rising and serving her guests. We are healed in order to serve. May the Spirit of God heal our pride and bring us down to earth again, where we can join Our Lord Jesus in being “servants of all.”
—Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S.J.
Lord, as I think about my day, I anticipate the various ways I can serve others. Enlighten my imagination so I do not overlook the routine happenings where I can extend the gift of listening and empathy. As I anticipate situations that call forth my courage or invite others to share their thoughts, may I remember that my ego is in doing right, not in being right. When the evening comes to a close, Lord, may I evaluate the success of the day by my choices that led to greater service.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team