August 31, 2011
And she (Peter’s mother in law) got up immediately and began to wait on them. Lk 4:39
Today marks the completion of 50 years of Capuchin life for me. It hardly seems possible. 50 years ago, after a silent 8 day retreat (no easy task for me), I was clothed in the Capuchin habit with more than two dozen other frightened young men. It was an amazing day and its memory brings me to a point of deep gratitude. When I entered the Capuchins I could never have imagined the wonderful friars I would meet and live with, the education I would receive, and the opportunity to meet, teach and serve people from so many different cultures and countries. Though not without its struggles, Capuchin life has been a great gift!
It is these rich memories that make me stop and pray in gratitude with Peter’s mother in law whose story is told in today’s gospel. When Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law she gets up immediately and waits on all those assembled. The immediacy of her response is what most impresses me. She doesn’t hesitate at all or ask to rest, something that would seem perfectly natural after a severe fever. Anyone who has suffered with a high fever knows how tired one can be when the fever passes. But, then again, perhaps that was part of the miracle. Not only was she freed of fever, she got her strength back. In the light of God’s goodness to me, and conscious of how often God has forgiven me, I hope that I will always want to serve others immediately like Peter’s mother in law.
Service is a hallmark of the Christian life and completes it. Service of others, especially of those most in need, is a sign to the world that we have heard the good news and want to live it. Service is an act of gratitude. Aware of how good God is, how God has changed our lives by accompanying us in all things, we acknowledge that words, even the Word of God, without action is empty. God’s love transforms us and compels us to go out in God’s name as servants. Jesus was clear about this just before he died. When he commanded his disciples to, “Do this in memory of me,” he was not only referring to the breaking of the Eucharist bread, but the washing of one another's feet. Today I want to offer a prayer for all those who taught me the gospel by washing my feet and all those who have allowed me to wash their feet in memory of Jesus. I invite you to do the same.