As we reflect on this Sunday’s Gospel, let us avoid putting Martha or Mary into convenient boxes— Martha, the anxious, resentful host; Mary, the attentive but inconsiderate follower. Both are doing the work of discipleship. Both are hearers of the word and doers. Both offer hospitality by opening home and heart to the Word in their midst.
Perhaps a better way to go deeper into this familiar passage is to focus on what Jesus is doing. Whether or not his arrival at Martha’s house was planned or an impromptu visit, having a house guest is always a disruption to our usual way of life.Whether or not his arrival at Martha’s house was planned or an impromptu visit, having a house guest is always a disruption to our usual way of life. Click To Tweet
On one hand, we can ignore them—let them fend for themselves along their journey. On the other, we can be good hosts. We rearrange or even put aside our daily tasks to attend to our guest. We share our food, space, and resources to make sure they are comfortable. We open our lives to them, with our joys and worries, and we welcome and receive theirs.
Along with the good Samaritan last Sunday, Mary and Martha show us what we are to do when our lives are disrupted by God’s presence in the stranger on the road or the friend dropping by. Whether convenient or inconvenient, God’s reign draws near to upend our normal way of life. How shall we respond?