Martha vs. Mary,
Action vs. Contemplation?
This Sunday's gospel (Luke 10:38-42) is an amazing encounter between Jesus and Martha and Mary. Most of us are familiar with it. Jesus, probably proactivelyurged by Marthato enter their home, accepts her invitation and,once in the home, finds Mary.
Both Martha and Mary are drawn to Jesus. But how they respond to and welcome Jesus differs. Martha performs the typical rites of hospitality: service of refreshments. Mary's version of hospitality-at first, exterior glance-is unusual. She sits at Jesus' feet and listens to him speak. The average guest might be oddly flattered, yet find it strange.
Martha is annoyed with Mary, and her lack of assistance. Jesus, surprisingly, seems to take Martha to task. The strength of his response suggests, however, that he trusts her, and knows that he can seek to awaken her to the gift that he brings: himself.
Before we do anything for or with him, Jesus asks that we let him love us and reveal himself to us. We are called to a relationship that is always his initiative. Our purpose is to respond, to surrender. This we do primarily in prayer which is, as it were, to sit at Jesus' feet, like children and friends and students of His light.
Let us bear in mind that, strictly speaking, Jesus does not need anything from us-save our hearts. We are indeed called first and foremost to welcome him, and to do so as we are. Let us invite him in, unready as the house may seem...
Yours in this Jesus who comes,
From the desk of the Rector