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Martha the servant…Mary the student

July 23, 2013

Why did this brief story make the final draft of today’s lesson?
It is only five verses long and for so many times it has been preached as a conflict between the sisters… but let us take a closer look.
Jesus was welcomed into Martha’s home. For me, that means that Martha was the head of the house hold. As modern readers, we might not realize how bazaar this was at that time. In the context of our author, this was not the “norm.” Women, of this time in history, were not the head of a house hold, but were the property of the house. But here in this story, Martha is welcoming Jesus into her home. I have heard sermons that harmonize the stories that include Martha and Mary, and the bring Lazarus in and make us think that it was his home and he was taking care of his sisters. Martha, in this story; however, did show and demonstrate the radical hospitality that Jesus had been teaching throughout the countryside. This hospitality was showing that a person truly cared about God’s created.
Our story continues with Mary. Mary steps out of the traditional gender roles as well. Mary is presented, in this passage, as a student of this traveling Rabbi Jesus, by sitting at his feet while he was teaching. Mary was so very eager to listen and absorb what Jesus had to say.
If given the opportunity, would we behave in the same manner Mary did?
So far, these women are acting outside the Normal social practices of the day. These women are very strong characters in such a short narrative.
Martha was busy and distracted by her “tasks,” of preparing the house and the meals, and making her guest feel comfortable. The word here translated as “tasks,” may be lost to modern audiences. The word “tasks” has the connotation of being so wrapped up in the thing one is doing that we do not pay attention to the things going on around us. If we find the same word διακονια translated as “serving or ministering,” when it is attributed to a male, however the word means the same thing no matter who it is doing the action… just a side note to ponder. διακονια is the word we get the english word for deacon from. Hhhhmmmmm…However, Martha would have been in tune with and listening to her surroundings. She was engaged in Jesus’ ministry and was a true disciple. Mary’s journey was moving toward discipleship was just beginning, she was receiving the words of Jesus. I don’t believe Martha was truly complaining about Mary’s behavior, but was frustrated that Mary was taking so much time to digest what Jesus was saying.
I believe Jesus was saying to Martha in his response to her question, was that discipleship for some takes time to grow and flourish, and some like Martha grow in discipleship faster than others. Isn’t that true for all of us?
Even though, each of our faith journeys are may be set at different paces, but as we grow into faith, Jesus is in the midst of that growth to encourage us along the way. As we commune, here in a few moments let us remember, as we take this sacrament, that this meal is here to strengthen us long the way as we mature on our faith journey.
This meal, for many of our sisters and brothers that have gone before us, was a part of the “Mystery of Faith.” May the mystery return and we take the leap of faith that Martha and Mary did by welcoming this strange traveling rabbi Jesus into their home and lives. As we receive this mystery occurs in the breaking of bread and drinking from the cup, may we be strengthened to show others to the radical hospitality and peace that come from God to everyone we meet.

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From → jimmyahornjr

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