In today’s Gospel we continue following Jesus in the early stages of his ministry in Galilee. Last week Jesus was recognized by the unclean Spirit as the “Holy One of God”, the highest title. Now, he goes with Simon (Peter) Andrew, James and John, who from this early stage are the four key players amongst the twelve Apostles, and cures Simon’s mother-in- law. Apart from the obvious and poor taste opening for mother-in- law jokes, it is the manner in which Jesus cures her that is remarkable. He grasps her hand, he touches her in the midst of her fever (probably Malaria). This was taboo, to touch the sick like this was to render yourself ritually unclean and Jesus would have to make the ablutions prescribed in Mosaic Law to regain his ritual cleanliness in order to associate with anyone, let alone have a meal with them, and yet this is exactly what he does. (Note the mother- in -law waits on them though she too is “ritually unclean”).
Jesus at a stroke is cutting through taboo, showing that faith takes precedence over rituals and we start seeing how important meals are too! Jesus is now an event, it records how “the whole town had gathered”. From now on the crowds follow wherever he goes and because of his infinite love for them he cures the sick and possessed. But, the next morning we see Jesus escaping up the mountain to be alone, to be detached from them so that he can spend time in prayer (attachment) to his Heavenly Father.
This is the same for us in our lives. We do the work of Christ by our connection with other people especially in their need, yet at the same time we need time out to spend time in attachment to our Father in heaven; the attachment, the connectedness with God that is the heart of prayer.
Perhaps this week we could reflect on how much time we give to private prayer, our moment of attachment to God, and at the same time our moment of detachment from the world and its cares, so that we can return to our role in the world refreshed and empowered to be the instrument of God’s merciful love; to touch others with the love by which He touches us.
May God bless you, your families, and the week ahead,
Fr Aidan Peter