Audio version of homily here:
If you’ve had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land, you may have visited Capernaum, the fishing village on the Sea of Galilee which was the base of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. Archeologists have uncovered much of that town in recent years; you can see the ancient black basalt stones of houses from the time and the foundations of a synagogue where Jesus may have taught and prayed. It’s a fascinating place.
Jesus called this place home after he came from the Jordan River where he was baptized. Nearby, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he called Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, to follow him. On the Sabbath day, he began his ministry by going into the synagogue where he taught and all were amazed at his teaching. That same remarkable day, he drove out an evil spirit from a man in the synagogue.
The synagogue wasn’t the only place Mark’s gospel mentions that day. He tells us Jesus left the synagogue and went with Peter and Andrew into their house, a short distance from the synagogue, where he would stay much of his time in Galilee.
In recent times, Franciscan archeologists have identified its location of what they call “Peter’s house” among the houses closely packed together. (See the picture above) The house is actually a compound where a number of families lived together. Peter’s mother in law was in bed with a fever. Jesus “approached her, took her hand, and raised her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.”
This may seem to be a minor healing when you compare it to some of the miracles Jesus worked: the paralyzed man who would later be lowered through the roof of Peter’s house, the lepers, the blind, the deaf, the dead like Lazarus or the daughter of Jairus.
But maybe this healing tells us something important, namely, that God is concerned for our every need, however small it may seem when compared to others. Think of it: shortly before this, in the Jordan River, the heavens opened and God said of Jesus “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”
Now here the Son of God comes to this small village, to this little house, and his first concern is to take this woman by the hand and raise her up. As he does on other occasions, he gives the woman the power to live and do again what she did before. “She waited on them.”
We may think that God as interested only in great things. Jesus, the image of God, shows us God is interested in the smallest things. The very hairs of our head are numbered. The smallest concerns that no one sees, but God sees.
After Peter’s mother in law is healed, others come from Capernaum and all over, crowding around the door. And Jesus meets them all. The same Lord of heaven and earth, the same Jesus, the Risen Christ who always walks with us is with us here.