Today’s Gospel message is very appropriate and timely. We read that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever, and Jesus heals her. A year ago, a fever might not have seemed serious to us, but things were different in that pre-Covid, pre-antibiotic world. Today, a fever immediately brings fears of a possible Covid infection. In the ancient world people often died from fevers or the infections that caused them – and, sadly, that is what we face today as well.
This woman’s illness was no small matter. A fever or an infection could be deadly. In spite of that, “He [Jesus] approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.” Jesus was not afraid to touch people. Touch was an essential component of His ministry. Jesus often touched or embraced people who needed healing or a sense of belonging: the sick, lepers, the marginalized, the outcasts.
In our era of social distancing, we purposely refrain from physical touch to reduce the possibility of contagion, but there are other ways of “touching” people. A recent commercial by a phone provider suggests making a daily phone call to loved ones, or sharing photos and sending emails. Yes, our Covid world can be very lonely. It IS lonely for many people. If physical touch is not feasible, perhaps we should consider these virtual alternatives?
Throughout His ministry, Jesus showed us the necessity to touch and to reach out to others. Those gestures brought healing to innumerable people. This week, may we find occasion to reach out, virtually or within the boundaries of social distancing, to touch and heal the spirit of at least one individual struggling in these challenging times.
Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz, CSFN