July 21, 2019 onboard the MS Amsterdam
Genesis 18, 1-10 + Psalm 15 + Colossians 1, 24-28 + Luke 10, 38-42
This is a story about God coming to stay with us. A story about Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary is told to illustrate a much more profound and personal experience, and out of the story Luke teaches us a lesson. This is our story. We are Martha and Mary, two sides of the same person. I am convinced of this not because of some scripture scholar or some divine revelation, but because I spend time in the confessional. What is confessed and shared by most of those who seek the comfort and grace of the Sacrament is expressed in different ways, but it is always the same. “Father, I missed Mass. I was just so busy” or Father we were traveling and in hurry.” “Father, I am not taking time to pray anymore.” And more sadly, “Father I pray every day but I don’t feel anything. It’s as though God is not listening.”
To look at this story as though it was a dispute between the two women or a contrast between two different styles of hospitality, or even a contrast between two life-styles risks missing the point. It is about us. It is about a people who have welcomed God into their lives, their homes, and their relationships. What Luke invites us to see is that there is Martha and Mary inside of us all. What Jesus warns against is being anxious about many things. He doesn’t say, “Come out of that kitchen.” He went there to eat, and I’ve always suspected he went to that home because Martha was a good cook. He just wants her to stop being anxious and worried about many things. All she needs to do is trust in the one who has come to her home. What he praises in Mary is her expression of that trust as she listens to his words. People who are anxious and worried are rarely people who listen. There is so much noise in their lives that they can’t calm down, listen, and simply feel the peace of God’s presence.
Luke invites to put some balance in our lives. Those who confess not making time for prayer or lacking the presence of the Lord need to listen to the call of Jesus to stop being so busy that there is no time to sit quietly and listen to his word. This is about how we choose to spend our time, and the priorities we establish for the use of our time. To ever feel as though God is not listening to prayer probably means that God is not being given a chance because the one at prayer is talking all the time. Sometimes the best prayer is simply to sit quietly in the company of Lord.
There is plenty to be anxious about hours before we arrive in Seattle. Not for me however, because I’m staying on for another week, but some of you will be anxious about packing, finding your luggage, making it on time to the airport, and all the stress of getting back home. Luke tells this story during a journey, the Journey of Jesus and his disciples to Jerusalem. They had to have been anxious and worried about many things. Travel in those days was hardly safe and never comfortable. Those who had been listening to Jesus were aware that there would be trouble in Jerusalem. They have already had trouble in Samaria. “Be calm”, says Jesus. Trust in the presence of this divine companion. Be still. Be grateful for the guest who has come to satisfy our hunger, take away our fear, and be our strength and our guide on our own journey to the new Jerusalem.