Perhaps some of you have great-uncle Marmaduke still with you this fifth day of Christmas?! Maybe he is rapidly becoming a real burden and testing your Christmas spirit ... drinking...
Some years ago our reflections emphasised that the Lucan Gospel included the important factor of the hospitality of God. If we think about it, last week’s Gospel about the Samaritan on the road to Jericho was an excellent example of the hospitality offered by the Samaritan to the victim of robbers on the road.
It is interesting, therefore, that
THIS WEEK’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [LUKE 10: 38 – 42] follows immediately after the story of the Good Samaritan. Somehow or other there must be a connection. It is also of value for us to notice that, at the start of the story, Luke does not mention Mary. Martha alone is the one who “received him into her house.” Perhaps Martha was the elder of the two sisters but we do not know this for certain? Was Mary merely visiting or did she live there as well? Probably, because in John’s version of the Good News (12: 1 – 8), it is mentioned that Jesus arrived at the house “where Lazarus lived” and there was “a supper … at which Martha served.” Once again Mary is the last person mentioned. It is more than probable that the brother and sisters lived together in the home – while the house, according to Jewish custom, would have belonged to Lazarus. However, Lazarus is missing from today’s extract.
The Gospel is an endless source of questions
and enigmas to be answered and solved; to be pieced together, wondered about and investigated.It is important that we enter into the treasure hunt – which is a giant jigsaw. There we will discover a depth of meaning which enriches our understanding of the miracle of the Gospel itself. It is an invitation to experience the hospitality of God which we should never ignore. Why? Saint Paul answers the question in TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [COLOSSIANS 1: 24 – 28] when he refers to the task we all have: “to make the word of God fully known.”
The Lucan account of today’s Gospel and the John’s version are, more than likely, about the same incident – only seen and remembered by different evangelists who place their own particular emphasis. In John, Mary does not sit and listen to Jesus but anoints his feet with “a pound of very costly perfume.”. There is no mention of Martha being
“distracted with much serving.” Notice the similarity of the two answers given by Jesus in the face of the criticisms of Mary – one by Martha, the other by Judas. The criticisms are both posed as questions asked of Jesus. Martha’s query was direct: “Lord, do you not care …?” Judas speaks with a hypocritical guise: “why was this perfume not sold …. and (the proceeds) given to the poor?” To Martha Jesus says“Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things” and to Judas, “leave her alone.”
Both approaches indicate a weakness in the hospitality we may offer to others –as well as the hospitality we offer to the Lord. In the first place we can easily have unrealistic expectations of our guests as well as God-in-Christ. Very often we expect too much enthusiastic and immediate interest and involvement in matters which concern us. Then, as in the case of Judas, the concern and interest we show and give to our guests interests and troubles may be brusque or superficial. We need to discern what areas of our living are of real interest and concern to the Lord?
What we are faced with in both our Gospel and the
OLD TESTAMENT READING [GENESIS 18: 1 – 10a] is the hospitality being offered by men and women, as well as the opportunity this creates for our God to reciprocate his own hospitality. The manner in which we offer our hospitality to the Lord, and the extent to which it is free from anxious businessor hypocrisy paves the way for God-in-Christ to respond. Today Abraham gives us the best example of real spontaneity, free from all hidden agendas.
This is how we choose
“the good portion.” Then, indeed, as Saint Paul tells us today “God choses to make known the glory of this mystery” –the mystery of HIS hospitality.