Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 10: 38-42

In the cycle of our Lectionary readings it’s a comparative rarity to find a Gospel text that features women who are both named and are central to the story. Martha and Mary populate our biblical imagination as women who had a particular gift: they were close friends of Jesus. That they open their house to Jesus and his disciples tells us that they were comfortable in each other’s presence.

I’ve listened to many sermons that hold up Martha and Mary as icons of action and contemplation respectively. The preacher may assume that you are likely to identify with one sister more than the other. There will be comments about how the Church needs both Martha and Mary. Then comes the invitation to develop your shadow side.

Robert Karris in his book ‘Eating your way through Luke’s Gospel’ suggests a different approach. He makes the observation that in many stories in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus meets with others around a table the invitation is to identify with Jesus. He suggests that we try it for this story too.

When Jesus is the guest, all eyes must be on him. He is the one thing necessary.

I’m pretty certain that if Jesus and his friends dropped by my monastery for dinner I’d be making the easiest thing possible, using the least amount of pans and making sure I didn’t miss a minute of the conversation. And the washing up would definitely wait until the morning.

How can you make space to listen to Jesus?

Image: Edgar Castrejon, Unsplash