Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by Peter Chrysologus
He cured many who suffered from diseases
of one kind or another. (Mk 1:15)
Those who have listened attentively to today’s gospel will have learnt why the Lord of heaven, by whom all creation was renewed, entered the houses of his servants on earth. Nor should it surprise us that he so courteously adapted himself to every situation, since his motive in coming among us was to bring mercy and help to all.
You can easily see what drew Christ to Peter’s house on this particular occasion; it was no desire to sit down and rest himself, but compassion for a woman stricken down by sickness. He was prompted not by the need to eat but by the opportunity to heal, his immediate preoccupation being the performance of a work which only his divine power could carry out, rather than the enjoyment of human company at table.
In Peter’s house that day it was not wine that flowed, but tears. Consequently Christ did not enter to obtain sustenance for himself, but to restore vitality to another. God wants human beings, not human goods. He desires to bestow what is heavenly, not to acquire anything earthly. Christ came to seek not our possessions but us.
As soon as Jesus crossed the threshold he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying ill in bed with a fever. On entering the house he immediately saw what he had come for. He was not interested in the comfort the house itself could offer, nor the crowds awaiting his arrival, nor the formal welcome prepared for him, or the assembled household. Still less did he look for any outward signs of preparation for his reception. All he had eyes for was the spectacle of a sick woman, lying there consumed with a raging fever.
At a glance he saw her desperate plight, and at once stretched out his hands to perform their divine work of healing; nor would he sit down to satisfy his human needs before he had made it possible for the stricken woman to rise up and serve her God.
“So he took her by the hand, and the fever left her.”
Here you see how fever loosens its grip on a person whose hand is held by Christ’s; no sickness can stand its ground in the face of the very source of health. Where the Lord of life has entered, there is no room for death.
Sermon 18: PL 52, 246-49
Peter Chrysologus (c. 400-50), who was born at Imola in Italy, became bishop of Ravenna. He was highly esteemed by the Empress Galla Placidia, in whose presence he preached his first sermon as bishop. He was above all a pastor, and many of his sermons have been preserved.
**From Saint Louis University