Sometimes we miss the deep message of the Gospel stories because we are people who read newspapers, journals and novels. Generally we tend to read a story and treat it literally. Many of the Gospel stories, unlike the stories we read in our age, are loaded with profound messages.

In today’s Gospel passage, at the end of Chapter 1 of Mark’s Gospel, there’s a lovely little tale about Jesus curing Simon’s Mother-in-law from a debilitating fever. It’s much more than a lovely story.

The author, St Mark, says that Jesus takes her by the hand and “raises her up”. Those words are carefully chosen. The same words are used elsewhere in the Gospel to describe Jesus “being raised up” by God the Father.

In this little story Simon’s mother-in-law, having been “raised up” begins to “wait on them” – She begins to serve. This word “serve” is also used elsewhere to describe the call, often made by Jesus, for a true disciple “to serve” rather than “be served”.

The whole story is an elaborate theological lesson about a person having been gifted by God – having been “lifted up” and going on to be a person who “servers”.

We have been gifted by God. We call it the “gift of faith”. It has “lifted us up” so that we believe that God, in the person of Jesus, became one of us (a human being) and in so doing lifted us into God’s life.

For us there is only one proper response to this amazing gift. The response is “to serve” each other so that those who may not be gifted like us, can at least experience a life of dignity because of our “service”.

This is an invitation to each of us to appreciate that FAITH and CHARITY go hand in hand.

Rev Fr Tom Stevens