It’s not every day that we see a son-in-law trying to help his mother-in-law get well. She must have been very sick. St. Peter proved that he loved her by bringing Jesus to heal her.
As a result, the whole town gathered at the door. (Sounds like Falfurrias. Something extraordinary happens and everybody finds out. Small town—there’s nothing else to do. My grandmother would go outside when she heard an ambulance—to see in what direction it was headed. A short time later either the phone would ring or she would call someone to see if they knew what happened.) News travels fast in a small town, like Capernaum. Folks were probably already preparing for the old woman’s funeral. When people died they had to be buried soon after. The mother-in-law was on her deathbed, so when Jesus grasped her hand and helped her up, everyone was shocked! By evening, only a few hours later, a big crowd gathered. They were not just curious; they brought those who were ill or possessed by demons. A good doctor, an efficient lawyer, a listening priest—they get plenty of business. People know when someone is genuinely interested in helping them. Jesus showed that He was genuinely interested in the welfare of the people. When the Lord was not teaching; He was healing. Never far behind was the competition. The demons wanted to cause confusion—distraction. Interestingly the demons knew that Jesus was more than an ordinary healer. They knew that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, the true liberator. In order not to call attention to Himself, Jesus would not permit them to speak.
Notice that many false prophets, even today, especially on evangelical TV draw attention to themselves. “I’m going to heal you. I’m going to call down the Holy Spirit. Through my person God will make a miracle happen right now.” The sin of pride will always inflate the ego. Fame, wealth, prestige are some of the temptations that the demons use to distract us from the message of the Gospel—the Good News that we are loved in spite of our sins. That’s the message that Jesus came to announce which so many have still not heard. The majority of us are still trapped in the reward and punishment mentality. So many are convinced that we have to climb our way to heaven. We forget that Jesus became incarnate—He came down to us to take us up to heaven. Jesus revealed a loving Father, not a punishing God.
The demons wanted to call attention to the identity of Jesus, while Jesus wanted to call attention to the message of freedom. “Let us go to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose I have come.”—to set people free from fear. The miracles in themselves were not important. What was important was that the folks would recognize their worth. Each person became the focus of the Lord’s healing. Evil would rather have us lump everyone together and draw prejudice conclusions. “All poor people are dependent on government welfare. The sick exaggerate their pain. Those who are not married in the Church are living in sin.” Making general assumptions about people allows us to wash our hands of responsibility to serve them. Look at Jesus. Although the whole town was at the door, in spite of the fact that He was tired and heard that ‘Everyone was looking for Him’, Jesus did not refuse to help. Jesus came to serve. He loved us all the way to the cross. The beauty of our relationship with Him is that He continues to love us, to heal us, to serve us. The Lord is never tires of hearing our prayers.
Perhaps at times we feel like Simon’s mother-in-law—like we are on our deathbed. Jesus draws near to us to grasp our hand. He lifts us up. All we have to do is trust in His healing power.