RCL C Proper 11 Complementary
Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm 15, Colossians 1:15-28, Saint Luke 10:38-42

The Gospel today is the familiar, charming account of Martha and Mary in Saint Luke, just five verses. We simply don’t know whether they are or aren’t the Martha and Mary of Saint John’s Gospel. You remember that one of Jesus’s greatest signs is to raise their brother, Lazarus, from the dead. This is their only appearance in Saint Luke. This Gospel tells us nothing more about them.

What is the preachment in this Gospel? What has it to say to us?

This Gospel reminds us of the importance of listening to Jesus, the Teacher, the Master, the Lord. And it reminds us of the equality Jesus gives to women. We should never forget that.

You remember that Martha is “distracted by her many tasks”[1] while Mary sits at the Lord’s feet and listens to him. Again, do not forget how unusual it was in first-century Judaism for a woman to assume the man’s role of a disciple to a Teacher. Boundaries are being broken. Freedom is being enlarged and encouraged.

But it is Martha who finds fault with Mary, and Martha’s doing so reminds me of a little parable earlier in Saint Luke. Here it is: “Why do you see the speck in your [brother’s] eye, but do not see the log in your own eye?”[2]

Mary has chosen the better part, as the Lord says. Usually this statement, interpreted, means that the Lord prefers education to labor. And Mary hasn’t become the judge of her sister.

I wonder if that little parable about the speck and the log is not also part of what the Lord is teaching. You and I will do well to tend to the log in our own eye before we attempt to remove the speck in our brother’s or sister’s or neighbor’s eye.

You add that to the reminder to learn from the Lord, to hang upon every word of the Lord, and to be led by the Lord’s example of extending equality to every person, and you have a lifetime of things to make your own. As the Psalmist says today, “Whoever does these things * shall never be overthrown.”[3]

[1] Saint Luke 10:40.

[2] Saint Luke 6:41.

[3] Psalm 15:7.