The Pope’s Wife’s Mother
Our Lord enters first papal apartment in history only to find the Pope’s wife’s mother in bed with a fever. In today’s third installment of the second Gospel (we will cover the entire Gospel of Mark this year), Jesus enters St. Peter’s home in Caper-naum (“Nahum’s Village”) for the first time. This little house will serve as Our Lord’s home base during his three years’ public ministry. St. Peter’s first order of business is to bring Jesus to his mother-in-law, whom He heals with one word. It doesn’t take long for news to spread around the fishing village that there’s a healer in town, and he’s not charging anything. That evening “the whole town” was at Peter’s door. Apparently every one of the 1500 inhabitants of Capernaum were sick. It’s the same today. When the priest offers a “healing Mass” [with the Sacrament of Anointing], everyone comes up to be healed.
In fact, every one of us bears some physical and/or spiritual infection within us, for to live is to suffer. Thus spoke the prophet Job from his ash pit, covered with boils, in the first reading. “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” he asks. “I have been assigned months of misery ... I shall not see happiness again.” This world of suffering is what Jesus showed your foundress Mother Teresa in her third and last vision: a dark sea of the poor calling out for help, with the crucified Christ in the midst of them. Jesus asked her: “Will you go into the dark holes of the poor? They don’t know me and so they don’t want me. Come, be my light.”
“Everyone is Sick”
The world is full of sick people, and Jesus Christ can cure everything and everyone. In today’s gospel, Peter’s home becomes a field hospital. Every cure took a little energy out of him, so “rising very early” Jesus went off to a deserted place to pray. I can certainly testify that only prayer restores a priest’s curative energies. I would not be able to function if not for the daily holy hour. But Simon “pursues” Jesus, interrupting his morning holy hour with the newsflash: “Everyone is looking for you!” Everyone? Is everyone sick? Apparently so. “Let us go on to the nearby villages,” Jesus replies. “For this purpose have I come.” Our Lord does not refuse to go into the dark holes of the poor, into the stinking sickrooms of every one of us. In Mother Teresa’s third vision, Jesus presses her: “Come be my light. I have asked you. She (pointing to Mary) has asked you. Wilt thou refuse?” Mother Teresa did not refuse. She became the 20th Century’s greatest servant of the poor, a willing slave, really, of the poorest of the poor.
A Free Slave
In today’s epistle, Paul calls himself a slave. “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave,” he writes. He is a “free slave,” motivated by love rather than compulsion. That’s why every one of you became a Missionary of Charity. Your fourth vow is “to render wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.”
So, sisters, while there is daylight, let us work. By our vows, and by our baptism, we have freely become slaves of love to our adorable Jesus. We follow Him who gave up sleep and food and even prayer to serve the world. Where there is sickness, let us bring Christ. Where there is ignorance, let us bring the Word. Where there are demons, let us call on the Holy Name. Once a co-worker called Mother Teresa to say she was burning up with a fever and couldn’t come in that day to serve the poor. Mother replied, “better to burn now than burn later.” I don’t think that poor woman came in that day, but Mother gave her something to think about. A good mother cares for her sick child even when she herself is sick. Let us pray to the Blessed Mother, and let us pray to Mother Teresa, to help us be good mothers to this world full of sick people, so long as God is pleased to give us strength.