Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
I am like a growing olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the goodness of God
for ever and ever. (R./)
I will thank you for evermore;
for this is your doing.
I will proclaim that your name is good,
in the presence of your friends. (R./)
After leaving the synagogue he 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 als; for I was sent for this purpose." So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.
Today's texts suggest life's ups and downs, before we reach our final destination. Arriving at Simon Peter's home, Jesus learns that the apostle's mother-in-law is "in the grip of a severe fever." Notice the sequence of events. The story 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 her to give her total attention to Jesus. That was not what actually happened. "She got up immediately and waited on them." The community setting is enhanced by the fact that they had 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 for all. St Paul's converts did not follow his teaching consistently but often lost their way. He reminds the Colossians of "the hope held in store for you in heaven," a hope that "has borne fruit and has continued to grow in your mind as it has everywhere." When Christians are strong in charity towards each other, they become people of expansive hopes. This hope, born of love, is the resource out of which miracles are worked and heaven is dreamed.
When Jesus was busily taking care sick people in Capernaum, he continued until sunset, laying his hands on them and curing them. But after this intense activity he took some time off for prayer. When daylight came he made his way to a lonely place. There was still much to be done, but he needed time to quietly pray. His public could not see the value of this, so when he went off to find a place to pray, the crowds went looking for him, and when they found him, they wanted to block him from leaving them.
Perhaps we are not very different. We often value work more than prayer. Yet, prayer was essential to Jesus. it was because of it that he could keep following the path God wanted him to take, rather than the route of public opinion. Prayer helped Jesus to keep doing God's work, no matter what others wanted from him. For us too, prayer can help us focus on God's will, and make the best use of our lives.