31Aug 31 August. Wednesday, Week 22

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne, optional memorial

1st Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

People motivated by envy are immature; caring for others marks out God’s co-workers

But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labour. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Gospel: Luke 4:38-44

Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, then presses onward to announce the reign of God

After leaving the synagogue Jesus entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.

As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.


Looking after others, his normal response

Arriving at Simon Peter’s home, Jesus learns that the apostle’s mother-in-law is “in the grip of a severe fever.” We note of the sequence of events. The story, in being told over and over again, has been reduced to its bare bones, those details helpful for catechetical instruction: 1) the mother-in-law is found critically sick; 2) friends intercede with Jesus and pray for her; 3) Jesus stands over her and addresses the fever; 4) she gets up immediately and waits on them.

After the woman’s miraculous cure, one might expect everything to stop and total, ecstatic attention to centre on Jesus. That was not what actually happened. Life returned to the normal routine of caring for one another. “She got up immediately and waited on them.” The family setting is enhanced when we hear that the people around Jesus “interceded with him for her.” This endorses the practice of praying for one another and of asking the saints to intercede for us. The family reaches outward to all God’s friends.

But this does not happen easily, or quickly. Even Paul’s converts did not follow any shortcut to heaven but often seemed to lose their way. He calls them “infants,” not adults, not yet ready for solid food. Like children they were quarreling over petty matters. Well, it looked petty when contrasted with true devotion for Jesus. They were split apart into jealous communities and claimed different spiritual leaders. Religion was being “used” and their natural tendency to pride and independence ended up in ridiculous ecclesiastical bickering. Paul reminds them that every church leader was God’s co-worker and that the church is nobody’s private property, or rather, “you are God’s garden.”

Moving on

Jesus brought healing to many people in Capernaum. Understandably, the people of Capernaum wanted to hold on to him. So when he went off to a lonely place just outside Capernaum to pray they caught up with him and tried to prevent him leaving them. However, Jesus made it very clear that he had to move on, ‘I must proclaim the kingdom of God in the other towns too.’ The Capernaum villagers had to let him go; Jesus was at the disposal of God’s purpose and that took priority over what the perticular people wanted. We began reading from the gospel of Luke last Monday; Luke consistently portrays Jesus as someone who totally wanted to serve God’s purpose. That often brought him into conflict with human purposes that were opposed to God’s purpose. We are all called to live our lives in accordance with God’s purpose. We try to do what we think God wants of us. That will often bring us into conflict with what other people want of us and want from us. In our struggle to do what God wants, however, we have the risen Lord to help us to walk that way. He can empower us to take the path he took, through his presence to us in his word, in the Eucharist. [MH]

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, bishop and missionary

Aidan of Lindisfarne (d. 651) was an Irish monk from Iona monastery, who went as a missionary to Northumbria. He founded a monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne, served as its first bishop, and travelled throughout northern England, spreading the gospel both to the nobility and the common people. A laudatory biography of him was later written by the Venerable Bede (672-735). For his Irish origins, his Scottish monasticism and his ministry to the English, St Aidan was once proposed as a possible patron saint of the United Kingdom.

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