RCL Year C, Proper 11
Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm 15, Colossians 1:15-28, Saint Luke 10:38-42
On a hot Sunday in July, in a parish where the kitchen on a Sunday often is hot in the service of hospitality to guests who need a hot meal, I want to make a simple point about the Martha and the Mary in the Gospel today.
And the simple point is this. Being either a Martha or a Mary to the exclusion of the other is a false choice. It is perfectly possible to fulfill the need of the one thing Jesus recognizes and to be a Martha as well. In fact, I would say to you that being both is the ideal. Further, Martha fails to see the false choice for what it is and forces the false choice on Jesus who rejects it. He affirms that Mary has chosen the “better part.” And he is reminding Martha that the “better part” cannot entirely be neglected. It is entirely possible for Martha to do her good deeds and to be a student and follower of Jesus. The two are not mutually exclusive as in the false choice.
Whether we are disposed to be more of a Martha, or whether we are disposed to be more of a Mary, the salvation Jesus offers is just a half step away. We know that God provides the opportunities we need to become fully his.
If we are worried and distracted by many things, like Martha, and if we come to ourselves and recognize the circumstance, Jesus invites us to sit and to rest in his presence where we can hear his words of grace and truth.
And if we have sat at his feet and learned from him, like Mary, and if we come to ourselves and recognize the circumstance, Jesus invites us to seek him and to serve him in those who need his love.
To Martha, Jesus might well say, that her good deeds lead to faith in him. And to Mary, Jesus might well say that faith in him leads to the service of his creatures.
For, the truth is, our guest is our host, and our host is our guest. Both are Jesus, and our full response is to respond to him in his fullness. He has given each of us much to give him as guest. And as host, he still has many gifts to give.