Summary: The docility of Mary is the opposite of willfulness of her sister Martha (Self-will run riot)
Recently I read about a Sunday school class for three-year old’s. Their lesson for the day was the story of Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha. Afterwards, the teacher asked, “What would you do if Jesus were coming to your house today?” One little girl quickly replied, “I would tell my Mommy she better clean the house quick.”
The theme in today’s readings is hospitality and unnecessary stress.
1). Hebrews 13:2 says: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
This happened in our First Reading Genesis 18 :1-10. God is often revealed through humans. It appears that it’s just a visit from three travelers, but Abraham senses more and gives an energetic greeting. The traveler’s ask,
“How is your wife, Sarah? She will have a son,” which confirmed the earlier promise made by God to Abraham.
That is what giving hospitality does—it blesses the other person and you too as the host. True hospitality crosses all boundaries: national, ethic, divine, human, legal or undocumented. Why? Because the word was flesh and dwelt among us. Divine hospitality is with us in Word and Sacrament.
In our Second reading, St. Paul offers his body in hospitality to the lacking or needful Body of Christ in need of spiritual hospitality. Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake; it’s for YOUR SPIRITUAL SAKE!”
2). Regarding unnecessary stress. We need to take responsibility for our own TEAs - thoughts, emotions, actions, by being single-minded for Jesus.
It’s Martha's "distraction with much ministry" (diaconal serving or ministry is the actual Greek word in the Biblical text); Martha’s distraction arises from difficulties in her partnership with Mary her sister that is the main problem. It is the "muchness" [many things] of her task that distracts Martha, which is a fact underlined in Jesus' response in Luke 10:41, and the noun “things” used in Luke 8:14 indicate the harmful role of anxiety in discipleship. Specifically, Martha’s complaint is that Mary has left her to minister alone (10:40). From Martha's perspective, Mary is not pulling her weight. Martha's prayer to the Lord is the request of a disciple for the Lord's intervention to secure her sister's active participation in their partnership of ministry.
What Jesus teaches Martha and us is: Anxiety reveals false commitments and distractions which prevent single-hearted responses to the Word made in an attitude full of faith. In Luke 8:14 Jesus reminds disciples that the Holy Spirit supplies words of witness and proclamation in anxiety-inducing situations (Luke 12:11-12).
He encourages anxious and distracted disciples to center themselves on God by recognizing and trusting God's gracious valuing them and providing for them (Luke 12:24,28,30).
Martha has neglected the source of that ministry. Mary appears as a person who has the "one thing" that Martha needs at this time to regain her single-heartedness, to listen to Jesus' teaching (cf. 10:23-24).
To use a trendy, contemporary expression, Martha is not “fully in touch with herself.” Jesus says twice, “Martha, Martha.” Mary, on the other hand, sufficiently integrates all the activities of life. Mary listens to Jesus in order to develop the single-mindedness necessary to achieve this integration.
Without the essential nutrients of rest, wisdom, and delight embedded in the problem-solving process itself, the solution we patch together is likely to be an obstacle to genuine relief. Born of desperation, it often contains enough fundamental inaccuracy to guarantee an equally perplexing problem will emerge as soon as it is put into place. In the soil of the quick fix is the seed of a new problem, because our quiet wisdom is unavailable.” [source: Wayne Mull].
Years ago Lewis Grant coined the phrase “sunset fatigue” to describe the exhausted state in which many arrive home at the end of a day. Do you often feel like you’re done before the day is?
Exhaustion sabotages much of what we do, not only at home after “sunset”, but in business settings, community service or in the work of social justice. Can you relate?
Scholars Muller and Heuertz both insist that we need to regularly stop, rest, delight and contemplate – essentially that self-care must precede any kind of usefulness. Does your life reflect this truth?
Can I just sit quietly?
The search for distractions can be a reaction to anxiety or an emotional disconnection from ourselves. It’s the sense that we always need to be doing something. MARTHA had this! E.g.--
Work: feeling centered only while working or accomplishing
Compulsive behaviors on the internet
TV for hours on end every day
Drugs, alcohol, tobacco to calm oneself, even excessive exercise, shopping, endless cleaning
Rage- only feeling okay after venting anxiety and anger inappropriately
EVEN spirituality—when we don’t do our daily duty because of being too absorbed in spiritual and religious ideas as way of hiding from uncomfortable emotions. The solution is to know that grace builds on nature. E.g.