Homily 7th February, 2021

Jesus bidding Simon Peter's mother-in-law to rise and be well

Homily for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

I think that after listening to this Gospel, each of us has a similar impression that it is very alive and full of spectacular actions God’s Word. And I think if I asked each of you what title we could give to this Gospel, our suggestions would certainly be: -The miraculous healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, or -The miraculous liberation of those who were possessed by demons and unclean spirits, or simply – Jesus Superhero, performing many spectacular miracles and healings.

Reading this gospel a few days ago, I thought it would be great if someone like Jesus lived among us these days. It would be great if he lived in our town of Kettering or somewhere nearby. I am convinced that our life would be much easier without any problems or worries with which we have been struggling for many months. And I am convinced that someone like Jesus would solve the pandemic problem very quickly and no vaccine, no hospitals, no doctors, no medicines would be needed. Let’s try to imagine such a beautiful scenario – Jesus living among us and healing our sick. I think that especially in these days, Jesus would be extremely busy and he would have a lot of work to do, and – as today’s gospel says – many people would crowd around him to touch him and experience a similar miraculous healing and liberation from evil.

However, in addition to these miraculous healings performed by Jesus, there is another very interesting detail in this Gospel. Saint Mark wrote: Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with a fever, and they told him about her straightaway. What does it mean? It means that this sick woman wasn’t lonely. It means that she had someone who loved her, who cared for her and who thought about her in this difficult time of illness. I don’t think Jesus would have healed Peter’s mother-in-law if it hadn’t been for the reaction of the good people who brought Jesus to her – and as the Gospel says – they told him about her straightaway. Let’s try to imagine how deep their faith and determination must have been. I don’t think there was anything more important for them that they wanted to ask Jesus for, than the recovery and well-being of this poor woman.

So, today’s Gospel gives us a beautiful example of what our attitude and care for the sick and needy should be. I think Jesus wants to tell us that we should not just focus our attention on even the most spectacular miracles and healings so beautifully described in this gospel, because this particular gospel encourages us to ask ourselves a simple question: What can I do to bring Jesus to those who need his love and healing? What can I do to bring this Divine Physician of souls and bodies to those in need? And perhaps at times it seems to us that there is so little we can do at this time of the pandemic, but today Jesus is giving us one more interesting clue, example and encouragement. In the last paragraph of this gospel, we heard: In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. As we heard, Jesus not only worked and did not concentrate his ministry only on his activism and miracles, but also prayed, that is, he talked with his Heavenly Father in a lonely place. Perhaps he was telling and pleading with his Father for all those lonely, forgotten and abandoned people who were not as lucky as Peter’s mother-in-law in today’s gospel. And this is exactly what each of us can do when our activity and any other charitable commitment in the parish and in other places are so limited. Following the example of Jesus, let’s look for a lonely place where we can be alone with God, so that our actions and work – which are very essential, useful and very important at times – are not the main and the only goals of our lives.

Since this week, on Thursday we will celebrate the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the sick, let us conclude our reflection on the Word of God with the prayer of Pope Francis for the sick and suffering:

O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick. At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain, with steadfast faith. You know what we need. We are certain that you will provide, so that, as you did at Cana of Galilee, joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the Father’s will and to do what Jesus tells us: He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection.

Amen.

Fr Gregory