Simon’s mother-in-law

Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed
with a fever…
Jesus took her by the hand
and raised her up…
she served them
Mark 1: 30-31

 Last Friday we had a meeting of about thirty base community leaders in one of the zones of the parish.

The base communities meet once a week. About a year ago we began a monthly cycle of four different types of meetings. The third we are having the people read a section of the Gospels using their imagination, in the style of St. Ignatius’ contemplative method. We initiated this since most people here read the scriptures for a message, whereas we want to encourage them to encounter Jesus when they read the Gospels.

First they sit in silence, breathing deeply. Then the Gospel passage is read. The facilitator then encourages them to imagine themselves in the scene, perhaps as one of the persons mentioned in the text. The leader encourages them to pay attention to what they feel, see, hear, smell, experience. After ten or more minutes, they share their experience to the persons beside them and then there is a sharing with the whole group.

Last Friday, to help them know better how to lead this type of meeting, we used a part of today’s Gospel, specifically Mark 1, 29-34.

There was a deep silence in the room while they contemplated the passage.

Then I had them share with people next to them. Some were a little reluctant, but two young men were having an animated conversation – so animated that I had to prolong the time for the sharing in small groups.

Then we shared together.

The one young man had identified himself with Peter’s mother-in-law.

Stuck in bed, with a fever, frustrated because people were coming and she couldn’t get up to help them. Here is this great teacher her son is following and she can’t prepare the meal.

But then Jesus comes, takes her by the hand and lifts her up.

The touch of Jesus gives her strength and he pulls her up.

And what does she do first of all? She begins to serve – to do what she has been accustomed to doing all her life.

She serves. (The Greek work used here – διηκόνει – has the same root as the word used for deacons.)

Jesus took her by the hand and raised her up from her bed to restore her to what she saw as her calling – to serve.

May we let Jesus raise us from our beds of lethargy, fear, timidity, and self-centeredness so that we too might serve as Peter’s mother-in-law did.

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