Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-13; Mark 1:29-39
Today’s Gospel provides a glimpse of Simon Peter’s family life. But it yields more questions than answers.
Is Peter’s wife still alive or has her mother filled the gap in a widower’s home? Or had they moved in with the bride’s family when they married? Does Peter’s mother-in-law serve because she manages her own household? We know that in Jesus’ day Jewish women owned property, ran businesses, endowed synagogues in their own name.
We know for sure that after returning from synagogue, they told Jesus that Simon’s mother-in-law sick in bed. Was that to warn him not to expect a good meal, to explain why a familiar face was missing or to request help?
Two things are immediate: Jesus helps her up and she waits on them. Neither she nor Jesus hesitates. I believe that what she did was a way of showing her gratitude, doing what she did best, perhaps, what she enjoyed doing. And in this she caught on in an instant what it will take Peter most of Mark’s Gospel to learn: to act as Jesus acts, to be as Jesus is. He first served her need; then she was enabled to serve his.
Meals are important to Jesus and this is the first meal mentioned in Mark’s Gospel. The final meal will be the Last Supper.
Perhaps she understands that any meal could be sacramental, when offered with generous gratitude; that, opposed to what the Book of Job told us, any work could be Eucharistic.