Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 5; 145, 1 Samuel 18:5-16 (17-27a) 27b-30, Acts 11:19-30, Mark 1:29-45
Shortly after Jesus recruited his first four disciples, they all stopped at the house of Simon (whom Jesus would later rename Peter). Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, so Jesus healed her. When her fever passed, the Gospel of Mark tells us, she began serving them.
Who doesn’t appear in this story? Simon’s wife, that’s who. The presence of a mother-in-law tells us she existed, but Mark makes no mention of her. Nor do any of the other gospels. Was she busy caring for her mother? Was she the tiniest bit annoyed her mother was expected to jump from her sickbed right into hostess duties? In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions how she attended him in his ministry, yet he does not mention her name.
What must it have been like for her when her husband came home and said he’d quit his job to follow a revolutionary? That bombshell must have been unsettling at best. Given the station of women in the first century, her fate was sealed when her husband made this decision for their family.
No one’s journey unfolds in a vacuum. For good or ill, our decisions have repercussions for our loved ones. Our sacrifices become their sacrifices . While each of us is the star of his or her own life, there is no such thing as a supporting player: everyone is equally loved by God.
Simon’s wife had a name. And hopes for her future. And as full and rich an interior life as anyone. As we grow in our faith story, some characters will stand out, but most won’t. It’s how we treat the “background” characters that reveals our character. Do we think of them as mere functionaries, filling a role but without inherent value? Or are we looking for Christ among them, open to hearing their tales? There’s a rule of thumb that says how someone in a restaurant treats the servers is a better indicator of character than how they treat their friends. If in God’s kingdom the last are first, perhaps the extras have the real leading roles.
For additional readings from today’s passage from Mark, see Choose Your Own Adventure and Celebrity Gossip.
For more thoughts on today’s passage from Acts, see Lemonade.
Comfort: No life is too small to matter to God.
Challenge: Make a point of being respectful people whose business involves serving you, such as wait staff, tradespeople, etc. We are called to serve them also.
Prayer: Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:11)
Discussion: Have you ever felt dismissed? How did you handle it?
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