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Monday, October 24, 2016

Daily Devotion for September 26, 2013

<i>Peter and Paul</i>, stained glass windows from St. Mary of the Assumption Church, Katonah, New York.
Peter and Paul, stained glass windows from St. Mary of the Assumption Church, Katonah, New York.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Prayer for the Morning

May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,


Prayer for Those Who Have Served in War

God of compassion, God of dignity and strength, watch over the veterans of our blessed nation who have served with loyalty and at great sacrifice. Bless them with wholeness and love. Shelter those who are in want, heal those who bear wounds, comfort the hearts of those who have lost friends and family, and bring peace to all who are haunted by the terrible memories of war.

Protect them and their families from loneliness and want. Grant them lives of joy and bounty. And may their dedication and honor, which have shielded us from tyranny, be remembered as a blessing from generation to generation.



O  good shepherd, seek me out, and bring me home to your fold again. Deal favourably with me according to your good pleasure, until I may dwell in your house all the days of my life, and praise your forever and ever with them that are there.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

<i>Healing Peters Mother-in-Law</i>, illustration ca. 1020 AD, from the “Abbess Hitda von Meschede ”Gospels, Darmstadt, Germany.
Healing Peter's Mother-in-Law, illustration ca. 1020 A.D., from the “Abbess Hitda von Meschede” Gospels, Darmstadt, Germany.

Matthew 8:14 (ESV)

Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law

And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.

This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Mark 1:29-31 (NKJV)

Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.

Notes on the Scripture

All three Synoptic Gospels (see also Luke 4:38-39) recount this incident. Jesus healed a lot of people in the first year of His ministry. Only a fraction are recorded specifically; as in today's Scripture, one incident is detailed, but we see that he healed “many” others. And there are just as many lessons we can take from Christ healing the sick: His love of humanity; His divine power; His role as taking upon Himself human suffering; and as a sign of His divinity. But while Mark and Luke use the specific story of Peter's mother-in-law for its powerful direct message, Matthew adds several additional dimensions to it.

One of the specific themes that distinguishes Matthew from the other gospels is his determination to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, as prophesied by the great prophets of the Old Testament; and in this regard, he connects the story to a prophecy from Isaiah (Isaiah 53:4)

If we read certain translations, it might seem that Matthew is stretching the quote from Isaiah to mean something that Isaiah did not intend. The King James Version, for example, translated Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” It doesn't sound like Isaiah was talking about literal diseases.

But it is the King James translation, not Matthew, which drops the ball here. King James and many subsequent translations treat the implication of disease in Isaiah as a metaphor for sinfulness, but it might be read better as a prophesy that the Messiah will, literally, heal illness. The Contemporary Jewish Bible translates the passage, “it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered . . . .”, very much the way Matthew translates it.

In addition to the direct importance of healing the ill (and, in Matthew, the significance healing has to the fulfillment of prophecy), there are two peripheral matters of notable importance in today's passage.

First, it provides evidence that Peter was married. (Some scholars have argued the point, and nowhere in the Bible does anyone come right out and say “Peter was married”, but most scholars agree that the evidence of his marriage is too strong to discount.)

Because Peter's importance to Christianity will grow steadily until his death — he and Paul are surely the two most important people in the Christian Church, after Christ Himself — this is the source of discussion, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, about the need for priests to be unmarried.

Secondly, when the woman was healed, what did she do? “She served them.” She had been severely ill — likely with malaria — yet, when she is healed, she does not lie back and rest; her immediate desire is to get to work in the service of Christ and His disciples. She becomes a paradigm for Christian conversion. We are healed when we receive the Holy Spirit, healed of the sickness that brings death and given life. Peter's mother is a model for what we must do with our health; to take on the burden of Christ with the remainder of our earthly life, as servants.

endless knot

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