New Testament Eucharistic Readings for Sunday, Proper 11: Year C
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing, Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41- 42)
This is a story about hospitality. It is also a story about priority. The hospitality part shows how important listening to our guests is over efforts of making them comfortable. This Gospel lesson is paired up in track 2 with the Genesis story of the three visitors to Abraham as he sat by the oaks of Mamre at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day (Genesis 18: 1-10). Abraham makes provision for them and then stands by them as they refresh themselves. He listens to his guests. He is present with them as Mary is present with Jesus in our Gospel lesson from Luke today.
I have learned through my EfM (Education for Ministry) classes, that hospitality is more than just offering a meal and refreshments. It is about presence. It is about listening. If someone goes to a home gathering and grabs food and sits alone without conversing with anyone else then just leaves after consuming the food, no relationship or real hospitality was accomplished. The better part is to have dialogue, conversation. It doesn’t necessarily mean agreement, just sharing and listening. This is the better part of hospitality. We must be attentive to the better parts and then thank God that it will not be taken away from us, which brings us to the priority part.
The priority part causes us to be mindful of the presence of Christ over all else and the; “this will not be taken away from her” part, shows its eternal nature. Food and work comes and goes. Being in the presence of God is eternal. I have been, and still become, both Martha and Mary. Martha is a good tool to use when we don’t want to face what’s really going on. Inevitably the reality of the eternal sets in. We must choose the better part. Within the context of hospitality there is a priority that should be established. This is true whether your guests are old friends or new neighborhood children. Our house rules should require us to listen, learn and love.
I would ask that if you are able to receive Ukrainian refugees into your home, please do so. Show them hospitality with the priority of presence. And pray with them for their native land.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John