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Monday, February 23, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 1:29–34

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (NRSV)

As I read this passage in Mark I tried to imagine what the mother-in-law experienced in these circumstances. She was to be the one on the front line of service, extending hospitality to these highly valued guests. Her role was clear—and she was unable to fulfill it. This must have felt calamitous to her. We have all had situations where we can’t live up to strong expectations. Feeling useless, embarrassed, and helpless in these situations is not uncommon. In addition to being unable to serve, her illness stigmatized and marginalized her by rendering her (and anyone who came into close contact with her) ceremonially unclean.

When told of her condition, Jesus went to her side as she lay in her bed, fully knowing she was unclean. His visit to her room was not permitted in first-century Palestinian Judaism, which had strict rules regarding interactions between men and women. He took her hand, raised her up, and healed her fever. Imagine what she felt! We are only told that she got up and performed her service of hospitality.

In the verses that follow we see how the word of Jesus’ healing ministry spread like wildfire. We are told that the whole community came to Jesus after sundown. They brought their sick and spiritually oppressed. They too were a marginalized and stigmatized people seeking wholeness and dignity.

There are areas in all of our lives where we struggle and suffer. Today let us reflect on how Jesus comes to us without judgment in our isolation and alienation. He wants to be present to us in those hidden places where we feel lost and alone.

May the good Lord provide a light for our paths in dark times. Amen.

Written by Susan Cornelius, Psychotherapist,
      Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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