St. Martha, Thursday – 29th July 2021 — Gospel: Lk 10,38-42
Welcoming God’s Hospitality
From the feminist concern this scene has received a mixed evaluation. If we understand the activity of Martha, then what she is “busy about” is simply traditional woman’s work in the kitchen. Jesus’ response then can be seen as defending, in favour of Mary, the right of women disciples to be free from such duties. This is to receive from Jesus the kind of instruction that will equip them for leadership in the community, similar to male disciples. On the other hand, if Martha resembles effective and leading action in the community, then the commendation of Mary looks like a strategy on the part of Luke to return women in the community to a passive role more in keeping with traditional views. As the dominant figure, Martha receives Jesus into her home and offers hospitality. Mary, the marginalized figure, is simply “her sister”, who recognized who this visitor is and received him with the hospitality of loving attention and listening that is truly appropriate. In the “triangular situation” Mary listens to Jesus, Martha complains about this to Jesus. Jesus admonishes the one who criticizes and then defends the one attacked, as in the case of the woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee (7,36-50). The implication is that Martha should be content with preparing the one dish that ordinary hospitality requires and join Mary in her deeper hospitality. In this way both will experience their visitor’s welcome into the hospitality of God.