With all due respect, mothers-in-law have been the brunt of the jester’s comments possibly from the time of the first recorded jokes: “… Now, you take my mother-in-law… please!” or “Behind every successful man, there lies a surprised mother-in law.”
This weekend’s Gospel story is not about Peter. It is about his mother-in-law. And Jesus.
Peter was concerned about his wife’s mother, in whose house he lived. She had taken to her bed, ill with a fever for some time. Peter told Jesus about her, and the Lord took her hand and the fever immediately got out of her sick bed and began waiting on Jesus and the disciples who were with Him. You would think that the poor woman would need some rest, would take some time to recuperate, wouldn’t you? But no, that wasn’t this woman’s way. (Sound familiar to any of you mothers or mothers-in-law?)
Some might picture her as the typical woman of the time, destined in their perceived “subordinate position in society” to serve men. Truth is, in Mark’s story, she was a reflection of Jesus Himself: she mirrored the generous, self-giving spirit of Jesus in His own ministry.
In comparison with the lofty mission of Jesus, the simple service offered by Peter’s mother-in-law may seem somewhat insignificant. The point is, however, that no service given from the good heart is insignificant. This caring woman reflected the generous and totally unselfish spirit of service as Jesus did. This she did in her own way, employing her own gifts.
We can be like Jesus in responding to the duties of the calling in our lives, no matter what they may be. Peter’s mother-in-law shows us that there is a wide range of service to which we may be called. We need to reflect on how generous and unselfish we are in our lives as spouses, parents, teachers, neighbors, volunteers — whatever our calling might be.
There is little time for the rest of the faithful disciples who follow the example of Jesus. They know that happiness and fulfillment in this life come from imitating the caring, generous, unselfish spirit of Jesus, responding to the Father’s call, building His Kingdom here and now.
Let us ask ourselves:
- What are my gifts?
- Do I answer my call to share my gifts fully and unselfishly?
And respond accordingly.