16th Sunday C – Martha and Mary
In the familiar story of Martha and Mary, Luke offers a snap-shot of Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem – Luke 9:51 – 19:28. Bearing in mind that Luke wrote about forty years after the resurrection, the story captures something essentially human about the early followers’ encounters with the risen Christ. The welcome offered to Jesus must have included some of his disciples as well. His visit was greatly honoured by Mary sitting at his feet like a disciple and listening to his words. The context is old world – warm and welcoming: a country village, an open house, a meal, sitting at table, discussion. There may be shades here of that encounter with the risen Christ at the Emmaus Inn – Luke 24: 13-33.
It was customary for the early Christians to gather weekly for a meal and discussion, a practice that soon morphed into our Sunday Eucharist. Martha and Mary embody the human need not only to get things done, but for quiet listening, reflection and prayer as well. Being busy, getting things done for the benefit of others is part and parcel of who we are as humans. Mary has always been seen as an image of reflection, prayer and contemplation, and Martha the picture of hard-pressed people – single parents, low-income couples, bread-earners, multi-taskers, home-makers, maybe working women who don’t earn as much as men……
The rewards for action, meeting production quotas, can be immediate and even addictive. The benefits of quietness, reflection and prayer are more long-term and go deeper. Action without contemplation becomes tiresome and self-oriented; contemplation without action is like “a spiritual consumerism tailored to one’s own unhealthy individualism” – Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 89. For us today, this lovely story of welcome to Martha’s home is about encounter with the Risen Lord. Martha’s encounter was one of weariness and frustration, while Mary’s was one of listening and affirmation. It can go either way. Christian life and spirituality is marked by experiences both of light and darkness, consolation and desolation, nourishment and emptiness. God’s Spirit breathes in one and all
“Lord, many people misunderstand hospitality.
They worry and fret about preparing plenty of food and decorating the house.
But few things are needed to make people feel at home, indeed only one,
which is to sit with our guests and listen to them speaking.” – Michel de Verteuil O.P.
Fr. QQ – 07/13/2022
Creator and source of all is in the heart of each one of us. The Upanishads