February 4, 2018 — Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The fact that today’s Gospel from Mark makes reference to Jesus curing Peter’s mother-in-law would seem to point to the fact that Peter was married. However, the majority of scholars are of the opinion that the wife may have died before Peter was called by Jesus as an Apostle. In fact, there are many misconceptions about St. Peter. For one, although often portrayed as much older, he was probably younger than Jesus. In fact all 12 Apostles were most likely younger than Jesus.
Also, Peter is often presented in paintings and movies and books as being a very old man, but historians have also concluded that Peter was martyred in Rome when he was about 66 years old. He was never the old, old man in his 80’s we see quite often.
All of that is secondary to a simple statement in today’s Gospel about the mother-in-law. Specifically, St. Mark writes, “He (Jesus) approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.” St. Matthew reveals this same fact in his Gospel (Matthew 8:15), and he writes, “He (Jesus) touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him.”
The message for us is very basic. Peter’s mother-in-law responded to Jesus the same way we should when Jesus blesses us. She responded to the Lord and immediately served Him out of gratitude. That should be our motivation, and action, as well.