Hebrews 2: 14-18
Mark 1: 29-39
Today is a special day for our community as it is the death anniversary and feast day of Venerable Elizabeth Prout, foundress of the Cross and Passion Sisters. When I read today’s Gospel, I thought how apt it is for her day. I think she must have taken her cue for living a committed life from the Gospel of Mark, which shows Jesus as a man of action. Here in these ten verses, we see Jesus go from the synagogue to the house of Simon and Andrew, and we are told he took their mother-in-law, sick with a fever, by the hand and lifted her up and then she served the guests. Perhaps as a consequence of this, people brought more sick and disturbed people to him for healing. He lifted up many of them and gave them the freedom to live more fully.
It is not surprising that the next morning Jesus needed to find a quiet place to reconnect with the Father and discern where he would go next. Elizabeth Prout responded to the call of God to minister to the poor and needy of Manchester in 1852, a city known then ‘as the shock city of the age’ because there was such poverty and deprivation at all levels. Elizabeth moved with compassion, gathered companions to give the people she encountered, especially the children, a lift up. She saw that education would give them opportunities that would empower them and help them have a more dignified and full life.
We also see in the Gospel that Jesus did not confine himself to one place, ‘let us go elsewhere to the neighbouring country towns.’ He was conscious that many more people needed to hear the message of liberation and healing, and he journeyed all around Galilee and beyond. Elizabeth too, was conscious of areas of need beyond Manchester, and so the sisters responded to requests from other towns and countries.
In our own time and places, many people need a ‘lift up’ so that they can live with freedom and dignity. In a country such as ours, which has material wealth, there are still many people who are hurting and in need of ‘a lift up’ for lots of reasons, loneliness, grief, poverty, violence and more. Is there something I can say or do today to ‘take someone by the hand’ and give them ‘a lift up’? If my answer is yes, then I am following Jesus, the man of action who came to heal and liberate.
Sr. Brigid Murphy CP
Sisters of the Cross & Passion,