Mark’s Gospel (Mk 1:29-39) tells the story the day Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law. It begins with a visit to the synagogue. After leaving the synagogue He goes to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick in bed. When Jesus grasped the woman’s hand she got out of bed and was made well. The Gospel tells us “The fever left her and she waited on them.”
This last sentence has always struck me as odd. It seems to imply that Jesus healed the lady so she could wait on Him. But I don’t think so. I prefer to think that she waited on Jesus and His friends out of gratitude. You’ll have to make up your own mind on that one. Feel free to insert your favorite mother-in-law joke, if you like.
Aparantly the word got out about Jesus being in town because at sunset everyone who was ill or possessed by demons showed up. He cured the sick and drove out the demons.
The next morning, Jesus rose before dawn and went off to a deserted place to pray. Simon and friends followed Jesus and tried to convince him to return. But Jesus said, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” The Gospel concludes by saying “So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.”
This is a significant passage. It tells us that Jesus’ ministry is for everyone; not just for Simon and his friends; not for a single village, but for all. It might have been very comfortable for Jesus to have settled in for a few days, letting the sick and the possessed seek Him out. But He didn’t come to be comfortable, just as He doesn’t call you and me to be comfortable. Remember, He said “Take up your cross and follow me.”
Sometimes that means we have to step out of our comfort zones. Sometimes we have to take a chance, even though it means new, unfamiliar challenges. Jesus was called to preach to all the people, not just a few. The same goes for you and me.
On Sunday, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke was in Saint Louis for a mass celebrating his entry into the College of Cardinals. He gave a very inspiring homily on the subject of taking on greater challenges within the Church. Hopefully the text of the homily will be available on line later this week. If it is, I’ll post a link to it here. He pointed out that everything that has gone before in his life has prepared him for his new role in the Church.
We can all learn from what the Cardinal said. Everything God has shown you, taught you, given you in the past is preparation for what lies ahead.