Reading for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Peace be with you!
From time to time, you need a healing—physical, psychosocial, or spiritual—because, for whatever reason, you are not capable of being your usual self. You feel as though your lack of health is keeping you from doing what God calls you to do. Feeling hindered like this is very difficult.
A few summers ago, I got a spider bite that became infected and turned into MRSA. I was put on two strong antibiotics and ended up developing an allergy to them. Since the antibiotics made my insides vibrate whenever I would move, I was confined to my couch for a week. I also had a dressing on my knee, which did not stay on well and therefore limited my movements. It was a lonely week; because the MRSA was highly contagious, no one could come over. A week on the couch turned into a month while this active person struggled to recover.
In Mark 1:30, Simon’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. This seems to be have been a life-threatening illness, given the urgency with which the disciples ask Jesus for help. When Jesus sees the mother-in-law, he takes her hand and lifts her up, and the fever is gone (Mark 1:31). Jesus’s healing restores Simon’s mother-in-law to her normal self, allowing her to go back to serving her household. This gives Simon’s her back her sense of purpose and productivity in life. Some people use Mark 1:30-32 to explain gender roles:women should serve men. Although that may have been true for the time, this text’s real point is to convey it feels to have Jesus restore us. No one enjoys being laid up in bed and not able to do what they want and need to do. We feel helpless, because we need others to help with our basic needs. When Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, her self-esteem is also restored because serving others gives her a sense of accomplishment. Restoring her physical health gives her freedom from her bed and the willingness to serve.
I remember being excited to be able to shower independently again after six weeks of feeling weak from fighting the MRSA infection. I could shower without feeling unsteady or worrying if I would fall. I felt like I had control back over my body. I could even go out of the house and not worrying about spreading the infection. I no longer felt like a leper.
When I was restored to my normal lifestyle, I could go back to my work as a writer and community builder. As a writer, I spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I also write as an advocate for other people with disabilities. I work hard to be a voice for those who are unable to communicate for themselves. As a community builder, I work to include those who would otherwise be left out. It takes time to spread the word and to build relationships with people who have been taken advantage of in the past and who do not trust easily. My work is important to me, and when I am too sick to do my work, I feel incomplete. This is why I get so excited when I feel better, and I am able to do my work again.
Simon’s mother-in-law is excited to be able to serve again. Serving Jesus and her household is what gave her purpose in life. This is what being healed by Jesus means: being restored to fulfill your purpose in the world.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for restoring us when we are sick. Help us to find our purpose in the world. By your Spirit, lead us to build community wherever we go. Thank you for hearing the urgency in our prayers, even when we think they go unheard. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- What gives you purpose in your life?
- How has Jesus restored you?