If you’re tempted to make any mother-in-law jokes today, restrain yourself. The subject of Jesus’s first healing miracle in Mark’s Gospel—like all women in the Gospels—deserves more respect and serious reflection. Recall that in last week’s passage, Jesus exorcised a man possessed, and now in today’s passage he heals Simon’s unnamed mother-in-law. This pair of exorcism and healing scenes is a reflection of a disciple’s journey of faith and a precursor of the promise and responsibility all Christ’s followers are given.
In a few weeks, catechumens who have been chosen for initiation at the next Easter Vigil will celebrate three Scrutinies, which, at their core, are minor exorcisms and prayers of healing. Whether as infants or adult catechumens, all who are baptized have already experienced Jesus’s freedom and healing in the church’s prayers preparing them for initiation.
To heal her, Jesus took her hand “and helped her up” (Mk 1:31). Mark uses the Greek egeirein, which means “to raise” and is related to other passages referring to resurrection from the dead. Having been raised from her sickbed and restored to wholeness of life, Simon’s mother begins at once to serve.
All the baptized are given eternal life so that they, too, may serve his purpose and mission—a mission that goes beyond our churches, homes, and neighborhoods to the whole world.