On leaving the synagogue [Jesus] entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. —Mark 1:29-31
The Lord went to the house of Simon Peter and Andrew and found Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a fever. He took her by the hand and raised her, the fever left her, and she served them.
Jesus’ entire mission is symbolically portrayed in this episode. Jesus, coming from the Father, visited peoples’ homes on our earth and found a humanity that was sick, sick with a fever, the fever of ideologies, idolatry, and forgetfulness of God. The Lord gives us his hand, lifts us up, and heals us.
And he does so in all ages; he takes us by the hand with his Word, thereby dispelling the fog of ideologies and forms of idolatry. He takes us by the hand in the sacraments; he heals us from the fever of our passions and sins through absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He gives us the possibility to raise ourselves, to stand before God and before men and women. And precisely with this content of the Sunday liturgy, the Lord comes to meet us; he takes us by the hand, raises us, and heals us ever anew with the gift of his words, the gift of himself.
But the second part of this episode is also important. This woman who has just been healed, the Gospel says, begins to serve them. She sets to work immediately to be available to others, and thus becomes a representative of so many good women, mothers, grandmothers, women in various professions, who are available, who get up and serve and are the soul of the family, the soul of the parish. . . .
Moreover, women were the first messengers of the word of God in the gospel, they were true evangelists. And it seems to me that this gospel, with this apparently very modest episode, is offering us . . . an opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you” to all the women who care for the parish, the women who serve in all its dimensions, who help us to know the word of God ever anew, not only with our minds but also with our hearts.
This is a selection from The Joy of Knowing Christ: Meditations on the Gospels, by Pope Benedict XVI (The Word Among Us Press, 2009).