This Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time we are presented by the evangelist, Luke a very familiar story. You know it. It is about a visit Jesus made to his friends home.
There are two sisters, Martha and Mary and tension arises. Luke writes, “Martha burdened with much serving, came to him (Jesus) and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Meanwhile, Mary has been visiting Jesus and listening to what He is sharing. Whew! A bit of an uncomfortable moment.
Have you ever been in a similar situation? Perhaps thinking you are pulling more of your weight than another. Or, have you been accused in judgement of someone thinking you are not pulling your weight with whatever the particular situation may be? Who is right? Is the assessment of what is going on accurate and fair?
Spiritual writers Lauren Murphy and Paul Radkowski have this comment about Martha and Mary. They said “Martha and Mary are often pitted against each other. Indeed, even Jesus prefers one’s actions to the other. Yes, there is need for listening to the Lord, for stillness, and for quiet. But I think Martha gets shortchanged here. She serves the Lord. Her bustling is not for nothing. It is the work of hospitality. Martha’s one thing might not be the same as Mary’s.
While I hesitate to contradict the Lord, perhaps there are two sides of the same coin: listening and acting in service of the Messiah who has come to them. Can we cultivate both hearts within our own?”
Right now I am reading the novel, “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles. A friend of mine often suggests great reads she has enjoyed and passes them along to me. This happens to be one I am enjoying now as I write this article. Ironically, in what I read yesterday, one of the characters in the book, “Sally” mentions this story of Martha and Mary.
“Sally” shares that Martha has had enough. And then, “Sally”, a fictional character in the story, declares “Well, I’m sorry. But if you ever needed proof that the Bible was written by a man, there you have it. I am not willing to believe that Jesus Christ our Savior- who at the drop of a hat would heal a leper or restore sight to the blind- would turn his back on a woman who was taking care of the household.”
I laughed to myself while reading this but at the same time thought about what it offered for reflection and even for my own prayer. It is tough when someone is judged and portrayed as not pulling their share, doing their job.
We each have a role in our discipleship. We each have different gifts but are reminded these gifts all come from the same Holy Spirit. These blessings are to serve the Lord and build up the Kingdom. Perhaps, if we are in a “Martha and Mary” situation we need to bring it to prayer and act as Jesus would.
How would He act? You know. I know. He would act with compassion, charity, and love. May we do the same and respect one another.
Next week I will not offer my little reflection. I am going to take a few days for respite.
Enjoy these summer days of July! Keep well and I’ll look forward to seeing you in church!
With faith, blessing and love,