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.
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 the long process of growth with its ups and downs, before reachingour 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." 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 for all. Even Paul's converts did not follow a clear, quick path 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."
Paul 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.
Our gospel describes Jesus healing people in Capernaum, where we are told that he was still working at sunset, laying his hands on the sick. Yet, in the midst of his work, we also find Jesus at prayer; when daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place. There was much work to be done, and, yet, Jesus knew the value of stopping and finding time for prayer. The gospel reading suggests that whereas people really appreciated his work, they didn't seem to appreciate as much his need for prayer. When Jesus went to the lonely place to pray, the crowds went looking for him, and when they caught up with him, they tried to prevent him leaving them.
Perhaps our own times are not that much different. A higher value is often put on work, especially good works, than on prayer. Yet, it was because of his prayer that Jesus was able to resist the efforts of the people of Capernaum to hold on to him. It was because of his prayer that he was able to keep taking the path that God wanted him to take, rather than the path others wanted him to take. Prayer helped Jesus to keep doing God's work, rather than the work others had earmarked for him. In our own lives too, prayer can help to ensure that the work we do is God's work, work that is in accordance with God's purpose for our lives.