Readings for the feast of Martha and Mary of Bethany
“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.” (Luke 10: 38 – 39)
Both the Gospels of Luke and John share a scene of Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. In both, Mary is defended by Jesus. Martha, it seems, acts as the one responsible for getting things done. My guess is that she may be head of household, even in her day. Realizing that Jesus did not write any Gospel, and those that did, did it decades after his resurrection and ascension. Therefore, I don’t believe Jesus condemns Martha’s efforts or suggests that we all should just sit around pondering only (even me). We need to be both as the situation requires.
“The devotion and friendship of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus have been an example of fidelity and service to the Lord. Their hospitality and kindness, and Jesus’ enjoyment of their company, show us the beauty of human friendship and love at its best. And the raising of Lazarus by Jesus is a sign of hope and promise for all who are in Christ.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for July 29)
This day is also chosen to remember the day our Church awoke to what God has always been doing in humanity. Our ordination of women only follows the ordination of Li Tim Oi (AKA Florence) “On January 25, 1944, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Bishop Hall ordained her priest, the first woman so ordained in the Anglican Communion.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for January 24)
So our Church chose the remembrance of Martha and Mary to ordain women. “On July 29, 1974, the feast of Martha and Mary of Bethany, eleven women deacons were ordained to the priesthood at the Church of the Advocate, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “We are certain that the Church needs women in priesthood to be true to the gospel understanding of human unity in Christ,” explained the eleven ordinands in a public statement.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for July 29) This ordination was contested by General Convention and “On September 16, 1976, the General Convention voted to amend the canons to stipulate that both women and men are eligible for ordination. The House of Bishops determined that each woman ordained before 1977 could function as a priest after a “completion of the ritual acts” performed in Philadelphia or Washington.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for July 29) So the ordinations stand. Thank you Jesus.
In my humble opinion, the ordination of women is really about our Church coming to its senses. It has been God’s plan all along. I remind us again that it was Mary Magdalene who first brought the word that “He is Risen.” And like those first apostles, we refuse to believe because of the sex of the messenger. We are just slow, but God is eternally patient. Thank You Jesus.
Let us ponder anew what God has always been doing. John+