Imagine if it were possible for us to spend a day in the life of someone in today’s scripture. Whose place would we take?
I don’t think we’d choose Job, although we can perhaps identify with his situation. Would we have the wisdom Job had to know that in the midst of the worst of it, when Job knew so little that seemed secure, he held on to one truth: that God is always worthy of praise and faith is still an option even if it appears illogical to choose faith because in the midst of suffering, as Job did, it may look like insanity to all who watch.
A lot of things about faith don’t make sense to those outside the circle of faith. Faith is not a magical formula but a way to discover who we are and who God is. Eventually God would work God’s greatest triumph through what appeared to be God’s greatest loss, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor.1, 18
Job learned a lesson we should remember in time of pain. Nothing about our present circumstances, be they good or bad, have changed the first thing about the nature of God. God is still the same today just as God was the same yesterday and the same God will be tomorrow. Jesus’ birth among us is God’s answer to that famous question, “Why?” Job was the Alleluia his community needed to hear. May we be the Alleluia the world needs to hear as we approach the season of Lent
Would we choose the psalmist in today’s scripture who speaks words of assurance? However, we suspect that the psalmist likely had the experience of being oppressed. But once again, we hear Zion’s grateful praise to a God who heals the brokenhearted. Surely the psalmist sees suffering as a symbol of hope an opportunity for a greater intimacy with God.
Maybe we would choose one of the people we meet in the Gospel: Simon, James, or John. Imagine being one of the first friends of Jesus called to follow him, hear him speak, witness him heal – which brings us to Simon’s mother-in-law. Spending a day sick doesn’t sound too appealing. So who is left? Paul and Jesus.
To live a day in the life of Paul would be to discover he had completely given his life over to Jesus. We, too, are called to do this which means we preach the Gospel and heal the sick.
I am always amazed at this healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. The text tells us Jesus takes her by the hand and “raises her up” This is truly a resurrection story, but no mere healing. Peter’s mother-in-law is restored to the community. It is important to note that when people were sick in the first century they lost their standing in community. This passage helps us to reflect on who we need to take by the hand and raise up? And who do we need to restore back to the community? So many of our brothers and sisters feel estranged and marginalized – not only because of unjust laws and policies, but even from our own Christian communities. Like Jesus, we need to be people who embrace not exile.
I love today’s Gospel because, after reading it, I asked Jesus to send me some of the energy he gave back to Simon’s mother-in-law. Jesus allowed her to serve, to use her potential and her way of connecting to people so it was not just “women’s work.” Jesus made Easter possible for her.
We all need healing. We have our disabilities, some are physical others emotional or psychological. Jesus never jeered at people’s staggering steps. When we raise each other up Easter is possible. When we taste each other’s tears Easter is possible. When we are a source of hope and show that new life can rise out of war and oppression, poverty, disease, famine, or failure then Easter is possible. When we remember that each person is a sacred object to be treated with reverence both in death and life then Easter is possible and peace and forgiveness are possible.
Let us become that Jesus who preaches the gospel every minute of the day in varied ways. The scripture tells us that the apostles pursued Jesus and said that everyone was looking for him. Jesus did not mind being interrupted. Can people say the same about us? How many people are looking for us? Let us continue our mission wherever it takes us and to whomever it takes us and make Easter possible.
Carlotta Gilarde, CSJ
Sister Carlotta Gilarde has been a CSJ of Boston for 64 years. Her ministries have varied though she began her ministry as a first grade teacher. She was privileged to be evangelized by my Peruvian sisters and brothers as she ministered for 27 years in Peru and had the great privilege of studying under Gustavo Gutierrez, at the Pontifical University in Lima. She was the first bi-lingual chaplain at the Children’s Hospital in Boston for many years and during this time spent 12 years in prison ministry with Latino inmates at the Middlesex County Jail in Cambridge, MA.