The Gospel on Sunday, the 16th in Ordinary Time, has Jesus in Bethany, and – for the Gospels – in an unusual setting. He is not on public display, but a guest in a private home. And he is, seemingly not with the usual band of disciples, but alone, with two women.
And in this domestic setting, confronting seemingly minor irritations, resentments, and maybe jealousy, Jesus offers the simple teaching that what is most important is not our service of him (still less our attempting to impress by our service of him!) but our making time and space to allow him to serve us.
Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’
This service of us, his service of us continues still, of course. In the Liturgy Jesus visits us still, offering ministry of presence and word, personally inviting us to ever deeper, ever more fruitful communion with him.
We are invited to lay our distractions, if we can; and, if not, to bring them to him. Either way, any way, we are invited to learn by being attentive to him.
- What do I hear Jesus say today?
- What distracts me from listening to him?
Church at Bethany, by tradition built over the house of Martha and Mary. (c) 2012, Allen Morris