Sixteenth Sunday, Year C, 17 July, 2022: Genesis 18:1-10a; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42
Today’s succinct Gospel is richly detailed, details well worth exploring.
Martha, who welcomes Jesus, is mentioned first so perhaps she is the head of this household. If she is prosperous enough to offer hospitality, she is not rich enough to afford a maid, her sister Mary, helping with the housekeeping.
There is a seat for the head of the household or an honored guest; in their culture, a seat would not have been found in a poor person’s home, where the matting on the floor provided the seating. So Martha and Mary are comfortably off, though not living in luxury.
Imagine that Mary had been carrying something from their garden for the meal. The exchange of words with Jesus absorbs her and she sits down to listen. Martha’s remark to Jesus about Mary, is as much directed to Jesus as to her, since his words halt her work! However, the ensuing banter could be familiar and joking, an intimate exchange between three people who know each other well.
Isn’t it just that intimacy, that transparency that characterizes welcoming Christ, welcoming God’s Word into our lives? Don’t we at times question the Word of God, argue with it? But if I remain in that hospitable space, I’ll listen, nonetheless, reconsider my reservations, reengage with the Word…I may be moved, not just by my feelings, but I may reconsider my position, take a risk and turn a corner in my life.
Here in Luke’s Gospel, we see Martha serving and engaging the Lord. In John’s Gospel, we will find the same Martha confessing her faith in the resurrection. There’s much more to her than her work. Evidently she knows how to listen, how to learn, how to channel her energies. She knows how to engage the Word of God and let it work in her life.