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In our Gospel reading for today we meet Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Three verses of scripture contain everything we know about this healing encounter.

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Mark tells us that the men in the family  come in all excited from their evening at the synagogue. They’re hungry and they’ve brought another friend with them. The woman of the house is down with a fever and now her son-in-law is bringing home a hungry group.

Then Jesus enters the story. He takes Peter’s mother in law by the hand and lifts her up. In the process, she is healed, made whole. Now she gets up out of bed and waits on them. One minute, she’s lying in bed with a fever, the next minute, she’s  trying to figure out if she’s got enough food in the house  for all these hungry men.

The part that stands out is that she gets up and begins to serve them. The word for “serve” used here is the Greek word diakonos, which means “to wait tables.” Mark is clear that Simon Peter’s mother-in-law began to serve them.

 The word diakonos meant much more to the Christian community for which Mark wrote the Gospel.  Diakonos was a word used a lot among the early Christians. Diakonos gives us the name for the Sacred Order of Deacons.

 Jesus described his own life and ministry on earth as service using the word diakonos.  The disciples’ service to others would be difficult. Yet, the life of service Jesus described as a life of diakonos, a life of being a servant minister, was the heart of his ministry.

Simon’s mother-in-law had a life-changing encounter with the Messiah. Jesus came into her house and touched her. In Jesus’ life-changing touch, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was healed and made whole.   Are you looking for a life-changing encounter with God? Perhaps it has been a long time since you have felt that healing touch. Right now, here, you can put your trust in Jesus to begin your own life-changing journey, as you discover the grace, mercy, and love God has for you.

 Mark describes Jesus going to her, touching her, and healing her in the past tense. Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her up and the fever left her. These are all described as actions that are over and done with.

But Mark said that Simon’s mother-in-law served them using a different verb tense—the imperfect tense.  The imperfect tense refers to an action that is begun but not completed. This one shift of verb tense means that she began to serve them and continued to serve them. Her service was not a one-time, over-and-done-with action, like cooking a meal. Simon’s mother-in-law began to serve Jesus and his followers.  She did not serve and minister to them because of some duty. She served out of love. Simon’s mother-in-law became as much a follower of Jesus as any of his disciples. She was the first person to have their ordinary diakonos, or service of others, transformed into servant ministry.

For the church to be the Body of Christ that God means it to be,   each of us has our own unique way to live this call, according to the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us.

We are to follow the example of this early disciple, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. After we have come to know Jesus and have experienced the forgiveness and healing he offers, we are to respond to the love God has shown us by sharing that love with those around us. And, as you share God’s love, you are living into your own vocation as a minister of the Gospel as a teacher, attorney, real estate agent, salesperson, doctor, volunteer, parent, grandparent, spouse, friend to the glory of God. Your ordinary work will be ministry, not by virtue of ordination, but by virtue of baptism.

And we share the love and grace we have known in Jesus we offer that listening ear, kind word, and helping hand, and in the process, we experience the love of God flowing through us.  


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