July 31, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today continues with another healing in Mark 1:29-31.
On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
What this story tells us is that Jesus acted in ways against the bounds and expectations of his time and all time. This healing also occurred on the Sabbath, a violation of the scribal laws which Jesus routinely ignored. Moloney in The Gospel of Mark explains that even more startling, “A respected religious leader would not take any woman by the hand. Though there were precedents for rabbis taking the hand of another man and miraculously healing him, there are no examples of rabbis doing so for a woman….[H]e opens himself to further accusation by allowing himself to be served by this woman. This may appear normal enough to us but no self-respecting rabbi would allow such a thing. As Rabbi Samuel had said: ‘One must under no circumstances be served by a woman, be she adult or child.'” How many times does he tell and show us that he came to demonstrate God’s love and compassion and not to burden people with legalisms and sacrifice and guilt?
I think these many healing stories in the gospels are important because the authors recognized that we are all in need of healing. We need to be unburdened so that we may experience the fullness of God’s love and, therefore, love others, to enter into the kingdom of God. He wants us to open ourselves to new ways of perceiving God and His commands, not to fall back upon practices we unquestioningly believe. Not to continue to judge and condemn and punish others; not to presume that we can act as God’s agent as enforcer. Jesus shows us that our role as God’s agent is to act in love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Any other behavior is our attempt to be God instead of being like God.
These healing stories are not simply about the restoration to health and wholeness. They are about the restoration of our relationship with God. They are about the fullness of HIs love for us and about our gratitude for His love and the desire to serve others in order to demonstrate our gratitude. Jesus showed that everything that got in the way of that was to be disregarded and contravened. He didn’t come to abolish God’s law, but rather to help us understand that His laws are to foster love of Him, ourselves and others. This is how we are helped up.