The Gospel for today is a familiar story. We have heard it many times. Consequently, I hope you will not be too critical if I break it down into four simple statements:
1. Peter’s mother-in-law is found critically ill.
2. Friends intercede with Jesus and pray for her.
3. Jesus stands over her and addresses the fever.
4. She gets up immediately and waits on them.
This healing miracle is for all intents and purposes a family story. After the woman is healed miraculously, one would imagine that everything stopped and total, ecstatic attention would have centered on Jesus. What actually happened, however, was the opposite. Life returned to the normal routine of caring for one another in that family setting.
A few hours later, the larger, extended family appears in the subsequent events. All who had people sick with a variety of diseases took them to Jesus. Though the Gospel does not go into great detail, we are left with the impression that once Jesus healed these people, they went back to caring for one another in their normal, routine family atmosphere.
There are at least two lessons we can take away from this simple Gospel story. First, the story endorses the practice of praying for one another and asking the saints to intercede for us. Whenever I walk past the front desk, I see the binder where people have recorded their prayer intentions. They ask you to pray for them. I have long had a practice in my own life. I have a small cookie jar in my room that is not filled with cookies. When someone asks me to remember them in my prayers. I write their names on a slip of paper and put it into the cookie jar. When I get to the part of Morning and Evening Prayer where we pray for certain intentions, I usually say to God: “Look in the cookie jar; you’ll find my prayer intentions in it.” I even have a few friends who call me and say, “I have an intention for your cookie jar.” Intercessory prayer is an important part of our lives.
A second lesson can be learned from the end of the story; namely, we are supposed to be caring for one another as members of the same family. Apparently, the community of Corinth had to be reminded of that fact more than once as they got into some pretty silly arguments.
Pray for one another; care for one another - a simple but important message.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator