In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law which prompts the whole town of Bethsaida to flock to Jesus that very evening so that He could heal the sick and possessed. Then Jesus wakes up early the next morning to pray in a secluded place. Peter finds him and tells Jesus that everyone is looking for Him. Jesus responds by saying that it was time to preach and heal in all the surrounding villages, because that is His purpose.
In this passage, Jesus reveals His purpose to us: to heal the ailments of the body and soul through miracles and preaching. We are a people in need of healing, and we all realize it in our own time. Some come to this truth slower than others because they are distracted by the pursuit of material pleasures, but we all eventually realize our mortality and need for fulfillment from our heavenly Father. Jesus is the answer to this. He comes to heal our broken bodies and broken souls. He does this by allowing His body to be broken for us, and in turn gives us His spotlessness.
How do we respond to Jesus’ healing? The answer is found with Peter’s mother-in-law. After she is healed, she immediately starts to serve Jesus and His disciples. Her service is not a misogynistic coercion created by the patriarchy in first century Judaism. Rather, it shows us the natural reaction to being healed by Jesus: service out of love. When we are healed, we are called to serve God and his friends (all people). It is in this loving service that Jesus is able to heal others through us, and we find our fulfillment. Jesus affirmed this in His teachings by instructing His apostles that whoever wishes to be the greatest among them must be a servant to all (Matt 20:26). He also affirms this in His example because the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve (Matt 20:28).
As we journey into Lent, let us remember that we must go to Jesus and allow Him to heal us. We must search Him out as the entire town of Bethsaida did in the early morning hours after he healed the town’s sick and possessed. Then we must follow Jesus’ example and work to heal others through works of mercy. In between these works, we must retreat as Jesus did to secluded places to pray. Because it is only through conversing with our Father in heaven that we are able to bring about the healing that He desires to the world. In this, we find our fulfillment of doing the will of our Father. In doing so, we will rise above the fallen state of the world.