When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed by demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.’ Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ Another of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’
Peter had a mother-in-law. As I mourn the recent death of my wife I treasure the memory of her mother who joined the household four years into our marriage. She became a reliable third parent to our children while we busily pursued our different callings which often took us out of the house for long periods. Contrary to the music-hall caricature, my mother-in-law was an active helper to all of us, but sufficiently self-effacing to let my wife and me create and develop our marriage partnership.
So, disciple Peter had a wife, perhaps a child on the way. And he had met and been called by Jesus of Nazareth, who visited and healed his mother-in-law. It seems so domestic, just like many of our lives are, or were once. In contrast Jesus calls people away from their homes and what they see as their domestic responsibilities. No security, no resting place, can’t even stop for Father’s funeral.
Where are we being called today – domestic duty or risk-taking change? How can we bear the two-way stretch: home against far wider discipleship? Is our calling to be fulfilled at home? or are home duties our pretext to refuse the hazardous challenge?
Let’s pray for one another, whatever calling presses on us, however we sort out the unique priorities of our own setting.
Jesus, you called Simon Peter out of his setting, yet you brought your healing into his home life and caused one laid low to rise and serve. you call women and men, old and young; you heal and bear our infirmities; you challenge us to go beyond the limits we set. Meet us as we ponder your loving, searching ministry give us insight to know what it will mean to follow further. Amen
The Revd Geoffrey Roper, retired minister living in Thames North Synod