Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
The lectionary reading leads us into the home of Martha and her sister Mary, where we find ourselves invited for dinner–along with Jesus. Their home is an oasis of care and rest on the long walk to Jerusalem.
Mary is hospitable to Jesus, welcoming him and what he has to say. She sits at his feet to listen. Martha is also hospitable; she sets to work fixing a meal for this honored guest and beloved friend. But whereas Mary is at rest as she listens, Martha is not at rest within herself as she prepares the food. Over time she becomes anxious, worried, and distracted from her deep desire to offer space, care, and food to her guest.
Finally, driven by an anxiety which fosters self-pity and anger, she bursts into the room where Jesus is sitting teaching, and speaks her complaint:
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?
Tell her then to help me.”
She figured that if Jesus cared, then he would do something to change her situation. Of course he cares, but not in the way Martha expects. Jesus sees beyond Martha’s anger, her feelings of aloneness and anxiety. He sees how split off she is from her deepest, inner self and soul, and so he calls her by name—twice:
and then names what the true problems is. It is not that Mary is sitting and listening to him. The true problem is how Martha becomes pulled away from her true inner self. Instead of offering hospitality from this deep well of welcome and care, Martha is reacting out of anxiety, anger, and a false sense of loneliness. As Jesus calls her name he is inviting Martha back to her true center, and to notice where she has been kidnapped into worry and anger. Jesus calls her back to that deep place within her, where that “one thing” – being her true self in harmony with Jesus’ presence and guidance – will shape and guide her being and doing.
The Genesis narrative also calls our attention to notice how God shows up among us – and how Abraham and Sara offer hospitality. We never know what kind of invitation and change God will make in our lives as we offer this kind of hospitality to the divine. But this we do know, our lives will never be the same – whether we react to begin with in anxiety and anger, or with unbelieving laughter.
As we listen and watch, we realize that active service in not in opposition to prayerful presence. Rather, Jesus calls us to become aware of when we become split off from our true, inner soul and self, and become alienated and hostile in the process – or laugh because of plain unbelief.
For your reflection:
With whom do you identify in the Luke and Genesis narratives?
What is Jesus’ invitation to you?
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
7/15 Monday: Luke 10:38-42
7/16 Tuesday: Luke 10:38-42
7/17 Wednesday: Psalm 52
7/18 Thursday: Genesis 18:1-10a(10b-15)
7/19 Friday: Colossians 1:15-28
7/20 Saturday: Luke 10:38-42
7/21 Sunday: Luke 10:38-42