16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Genesis 18, 1-10 + Psalm 15 + Colossians 1, 24-28 + Luke 10, 38-42
July 17, 2016 at St Joseph Church in Norman, OK
At some point in time, and for some reason completely unknown to me, this fragment of Luke’s Gospel has been twisted and distorted to suggest that sitting around at the feet of Jesus is better than feeding Jesus. If that were really the purpose of telling this story, Jesus would have left that house looking for something eat somewhere else. I have always believed that he went there because Martha was a good cook, and that the ancient Jewish tradition of hospitality would always be extended to him, and maybe his twelve companions. Can you imagine showing up with twelve friends at someone’s house. It is no wonder she was in the kitchen frantic for some help!
This little piece of Luke’s Gospel is focused not so much on Martha or Mary, but upon something that affects us all from time to time and can lead us away from Jesus Christ. What Jesus speaks of is worry and anxiety. This is what concerns him when he sees it in someone he loves. Worry and anxiety are what keeps Martha from realizing who is present in her home and what peace and tranquility, confidence and hope are found in his presence and from listening to his Word.
Perhaps she is worried about getting the dinner on the table in time. Perhaps she is worried about what someone would think if it is not perfect in every way. Perhaps she is worried that there will not be enough. Perhaps she is anxious over her appearance or the condition of the house and how things look with someone sitting around and not helping. Who knows what else she might be worried about or what may be causing her anxiety which is really just a fear of nothing. Whatever it is, Jesus says that worry and anxiety are not good for us, and they are certainly not good when brought into relationships with one’s brother or sister. Look at the possibility of what worry and anxiety might do to the relationship between these two sisters. They could easily end up in a big fight that would be terrible between sisters.
People who live in the presence of Jesus Christ, people who know who is with them and who has been welcomed into their lives are not a people who are anxious and worried. They live in peace with the knowledge and the confidence of people who know that God is with them. Fear does not rule their lives. Fear does not keep them from peace of mind and heart. Worry does not keep them from joy in celebrating and feasting on the presence of God in Jesus Christ. They know that God will provide what is needed if they use those gifts with peaceful, steady, and calm perseverance. The one who came to lift our burdens speaks again to any who feel burdened in this life. All he asks is that we pay attention to and remember his presence with us when we are awake and when we sleep, when we work, and when we play. A simple and single minded heart, a life that is without anxiety and worry is the consequence of living the presence of Jesus. Whenever we become anxious and worried about anything at all, we will not have time to celebrate the presence of the one who loves, heals, and saves. Choose the better part, set aside anxiety and worry, because all will be well.