Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sister Helen Bellew, SNDdeN

Jan 31, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

February 4, 2024

Mark 1: 29-39

“And she waited on them”

In Mark’s narrative, this story occurs at the beginning of Jesus public ministry. Preceding this event is the account of Jesus baptism by John in the Jordan, and His 40 days of prayer and fasting in the desert. Well prepared, Jesus came to Galilee and began to preach the Gospel. Passing by the sea of Galilee, He called two fishermen, Simon (later called Peter) and his brother, Andrew. “Come follow me”, he said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” He called two more apostles that day and they travelled with him to Capernaum where Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach “as one having authority.”

Upon leaving the synagogue, Jesus, with his new companions, went to the house of Simon where his mother-in-law lay ill. When they told Jesus about her, He went to her, “grasped her hand and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

We see in this scene, the blending of divine power and human nature. In the miracle of healing, Jesus reveals God’s power coupled with human compassion and gentle touch.

As word spread, many other people suffering from various illnesses came well into the night seeking healing. The newly chosen apostles were excited and wanted Jesus to keep on healing. They even interrupted His pre-dawn prayer time because people were looking for Him. Instead, Jesus said: “let’s go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose, have I come.” This passage is clearly about the early public life of Jesus. What is most prominent in this account and what is most often highlighted is the crowd that flocked to Jesus time after time, seeking physical healing. His primary purpose though was to preach, to bring God’s word, God’s message of love, forgiveness, and salvation to all.

Is it also about something more? Jesus also came to teach us how to live, and how to care for each other. In the brief encounter of Jesus with Simon’s mother-in- law, is Jesus’ healing touch and compassion, and her response, teaching us something about how we are to be truly human in our human interactions and how we are to care for each other? “He helped her up and she waited on them.” She what? Anyone who has had a fever knows that the aftermath is one of physical weakness at the very least. This must have been significant to have been included in the story. It seems extraordinary that her first concern would be the needs and comfort of others. Is this a message for us, too? No matter what our circumstances, physically or otherwise, are we expected to reach out to others in service in whatever way we can. How am I, how are we living Jesus’ message of healing and compassion? How am I, how are we being in service to each other as Simon’s mother-in-law was?


Mark 1: 29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” He answered, “Let us go there too, because that is why I came.” And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

The Gospel of the Lord



Meet Sister Helen Bellew, SNDdeN

Helen Julie Bellew entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1961. She served as an elementary teacher and principal in New York, Washington, D.C. and Delaware for many years. She served as Executive Secretary to the United States Leadership of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and completed a four year term as a member of the United States National Team of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She continues to be actively involved with the board and faculty of a Notre Dame affiliated school, and is a member of the Life Care Network in her province, collaborating with others to plan for the future needs of the Sisters.