Gospel Reflections for Sun July 21st

15 July 2013

Jesus visits Mary and Martha

Luke 10:38-42    Gospel reading for Sunday July 21st 2013


It is easy to take sides here in this classic story. On the one hand we applaud Mary for her focus on "the one thing needful", for making the most of an incredible opportunity to sit at the feet of her Lord and master teacher. Yet one can't help feeling a great deal of empathy for Martha who is committed to providing the hospitality; to serving. Martha seems to be on the receiving end of some quite harsh treatment from Jesus. After all, isn't she putting into practice the servant heart and genuine care for others just expounded by Jesus in the Parable of the Good Samaritan?


What's this all about then? Amongst the many and complex perspectives on this story, I want to take up just one thread of thinking ... the idea that Martha was distracted. 


The problem is not that Martha was engaged in service, because Jesus clearly encourages and even commands this. Rather it is the fundamentally flawed nature of the hospitality that she provides. In offering true hospitality, one devotes full attention to the guest. Martha breaks a basic rule of hospitality by embarrassing her sister in front of her guest and even goes to the extreme of asking her guest to intervene in the dispute. This is capped off by a stinging accusation from Martha ... "Lord don't you care?" When we carefully analyze Martha's service, it has a few cracks in it!


It is easy to be distracted in a world of hectic schedules, attractive alternatives to "the narrow road" and the power of capitalism / consumerism that is constantly presented to us through the media.


So for us in Lutheran schools, perhaps this is a timely reminder not to be distracted. Jesus is (still) the one thing needful in the complex world of the 21st century ... and that need is no more evident than it is right under our noses, right on the doorsteps of our schools.


Lord give us the strength and courage not to be distracted from the task of bringing the good news of the hope and healing of Jesus to those around us. AMEN!