It is easy to read about the illness of Peter’s mother-in-law without realizing it has something to teach us. It is described to us in two short verses: a description of the illness, the action of Jesus, and the result of his action. The woman in the story suffers from a high fever. Jesus rebukes the fever, and the woman gets up to serve them. It would be easy to skip past all that; it goes so quickly. And we all have had the experience of being sick, so we can identify with the difficulty of the woman, recovery in our case can be a relatively brief 24 hours, although it can seem like it’s a lot longer. Or it can take several days, maybe longer. In other words, being sick is common-place and we tend not to think of it as something odd or unusual.
But this morning I would like to draw your attention to the last part of the healing. It reminds us of our responsibility in response to God’s goodness to us. We are called to serve.
I’m happy to say that in our parish, being a volunteer seems to be a way of life for many. You can look at the back of the bulletin and see all the different ways in which people serve. It flows from the sense of love about which Paul speaks today to the Colossians. Service was the distinguishing characteristic of the church from the very beginning. It is the clearest and simplest way for love to be shown.
It may take different forms: parish outreach to the poor, communion calls to the sick, presence to the bereaved at a time of grief, assisting families in forming children in our Catholic faith, providing support for the day to day operation of the church. In addition, for the liturgy, we need ushers, servers, lectors, and people to assist in the distribution of the eucharistic. Even within our own families; caring for our sick mother, father, brother, sister, child. Helping with chores around the house. All these things we do to serve others.
It all started by the example given to us by Jesus. Always on the move, spreading the good news, healing others.