“We are God's co-workers;
you are God's field, God's building.”
The readings today are filled with a glimpse of real humanity both in the life of Jesus and in the early Church. No matter how much we want to envision the warmth and love of the earliest Christians for one another, they were as human as the rest of us. Paul admonishes the Corinthians noting: “there is jealousy and rivalry among you.” They had already split into factions according to who had baptized them, Paul or Apollos. A frustrated Paul tries to set them straight: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.”
In Luke's Gospel, we see a series of poignant scenes that are warmly real and deeply human. One of Jesus' closest friends, Simon Peter, has a mother-in-law who is gravely ill. Could Jesus come and see her? We can assume that in the small geographical world in which they lived, Jesus knew her and had been in her house with Simon, his wife, and probably others. Knowing the culture, Jesus had most likely received her hospitality and food many times. Of course he wanted to help. I can imagine that he held her hand as he stood close to her bed, spoke to her warmly and healed her. Then she did what most symbolized that she was back to normal: she got up and gave them something to eat. She was ready to get back to work, serving and loving her family and friends.
As that day ended, the sick and diseased were still coming to Jesus, begging and calling for a cure. We can imagine the crowds of family and friends who struggled to bring their loved ones near, hoping desperately for health. Even after a long day, Jesus remained with them, spending time with each one, moving close to look lovingly into their eyes, warmly embracing even those whose had been isolated from human touch by their disfiguring diseases. He bent down and spoke softly to them and they were healed. Perhaps at that moment they, too, stood up from their stretchers and began to serve in the way they were each called by God.
Paul tells us, “We are God's co-workers.” Each of us has been loved into life by God and touched with the sacred spark of humanity. And each of us has a unique calling in this life be a co-worker with God on earth. It doesn't matter what we have been called to: parenthood, religious life, married or single, whether we are a fisherman in Galilee, a hospitable mother-in-law, a farmer, teacher, office or factory worker, we have a sacred job to do on earth, in the way we live our lives and interact with others.
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