The Gospel readings this week have come from the beginning of St Mark’s account of the life of Our Lord, emphasising His authority, both in word and deed. We hear stories of four remarkable miracles of healing, including a touching scene where Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Mk 1:29-39).
In my homily that day, I reflected on two meanings of fever. There is the literal meaning of this woman suffering from a high temperature, tossing and turning in her bed, groaning in agony. It makes us think and urges us to pray for our sisters and brothers who are ill, some suffering the additional trauma and insult, of lying on hospital trolleys, waiting for hours to get a bed.
But there is also a rich, metaphorical meaning of this term “fever!” It is linked with the notion of being extremely busy, being “hot and bothered” – we might even label our lives as being “feverish” at times as we try to fit in so many things to do from day to day.
In the first chapter of Mark, it may look as though Jesus is engaged in feverish activity, hurrying from one scene to the next, but in fact he comes across as confident, self-assured, and calm; all of this due to the time he takes early in the morning to pray to his Father.
The past week in Multy was hardly feverish, but it was eventful. We received two of the Athlone Community into our brotherhood at the friary after the withdrawal of the friars from that midland town. Brothers Gabriel and Salvador are gradually settling in to a different rhythm of life in the countryside, though Gabriel will be commuting a fair amount to Athlone, where church services will continue for two days a week until summertime. A final decision will be made then about the future use of the church and friary beside the River Shannon.
In fact, I travelled to Athlone on Tuesday morning from Multy to celebrate the morning Mass, with St Anthony devotions, returning home to celebrate again the devotions in our own church at eight o’clock that evening. I never thought that Multyfarnham would end up looking after Athlone!
We also celebrated Mass in our church on the RTÉ News Channel at 10:30am on Wednesday, an invitation we love to accept, knowing that we are praying with, and for, some approximately thirty thousand souls assisting at Mass from home. Yes, one could say that Multy is flourishing prayerfully – not feverish at all, thanks be to God.