The Healing of Peter's Mother-in-Law

6 September 2006: Wednesday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 4, 38,39 The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law

Luke is a medical doctor. So he writes a medical term. “In the grip of a major fever” is the medical Greek for someone definitely laid up with an illness. The Greek medical writers divided fevers into two classes: major and minor. Luke just described this illness.

There are two things to be said in this Gospel.

First, Jesus was ready to help. He just left the synagogue and thus he is tired. Every preacher in the synagogue knows what it feels after a service. It is draining and a person needs to rest. In fact, after this passage of Jesus helping Peter’s mother-in-law, and at sundown, all who had friends who were ill will be brought to him. After the demands of the crowds, Jesus will eventually go to a deserted place alone to pray and to rest.

Many of us are busy. Our work, our studies, our daily routine often diminishes our energies, including the energy to be able to help others. The demand of people will always be there and should be responded to. But it also mean that we too have to recoup our strengths, renew the source of our core energy, regain our health. Without our health, we will not be able to rest. Even if Jesus was ready to help, He needed to recover, recuperate and gain back his strength by praying. By going alone to pray and to rest, He constantly centers His life on God. The experience of prayer issues out in service. This is precisely the point in the order of the commandments: Love God with all your heart is the first and primary commandment; then from it comes the second, love one’s neighbors. When we pray we regain our strength, and gain a sense of perspective.

Finally, when Peter’s mother-in-law was cured, it is written that “immediately she began to serve them.” In gratitude and in the realization that her life has been given back to her, she did not lose time to return her gratitude by cooking and serving. We would do well to remember that if God gave us the priceless gift of health and strength, he gave it that we might use it always in the service of others.

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