Fr. Peter Patrick’s Homily for Sunday, February 7, 2021:
When we read the gospels, we hear about the transformation that happened to all those people who encountered Jesus. Jesus went out to meet people where they were. A good example is when Jesus called His first disciples. He met them at the Sea of Galilee while they were fishing. He also met the Samaritan woman at the well, the good thief on the cross, and in today’s gospel, Jesus leaves the synagogue and enters the house of Simon’s mother-in-law where He encounters her. He heals her and in return, she ministers to them. Jesus sent those who encountered Him on a mission of serving others in different ways.
Pope Francis explained during a homily on the First Sunday of Advent 2014, before confirming a group of parish children, “The most important thing that can happen to a person is to encounter Jesus, who loves us, who has saved us, who gave his life for us.” You may ask yourselves, “Where do we encounter Jesus in our daily lives?” First, Jesus is alive in His word, the inspired Gospel stories and the living tradition of our church. Second, we meet Jesus in the sacraments, especially in regular participation in both the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation. And third, we meet Jesus in our loving service to those in need, those who live on the periphery of society.
As Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, He also desires to heal us and make us whole. But this does not come without a cost. He heals us and sets us free not so we can simply live life our way, but so we can build the kingdom of God by spreading the Christian message, a message of hope and love. As Christians we are called to say with St. Paul, “Indeed, preaching the Gospel is no reason for me to boast; it is an obligation that has been imposed upon me. And woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.” (1 Cor 9:16).
All of us are given this mission. We simply need to discern every day what our calling is and what we were created for. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have access to the graces and gifts necessary to live out our call everyday. At times, the way we live out our calling is simply to be a good mother, father, child, loving and devoted wife or husband, man or woman, and faithful friend. In other words, as St. Francis of Assisi puts it,“Preach the gospel all the times, and if necessary use words.” Meaning our deeds need to be a testimony that we are Jesus’ disciples.