Gospel – Luke 10:38-42
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Many of us have certainly heard the preachers who would go on depicting Martha as the loser
in the story who was too busy with the things of this world. Mary is typically extolled by the preachers as being a pure contemplative who has spiritually outgrown the mundane concerns. This interpretation smacks of clerical,
“spiritual” exclusivism. Its biblical exegesis is also highly questionable. Notice that today’s Gospel is preceded by a passage about the Good Samaritan. That busy-body person was given as an example of what one must do to inherit the eternal life (Luke 10:25). Is there a way we could salvage Martha’s ill-deserved reputation as the one who had her priorities messed up? Here, you may want to point out that the community of Luke chose to use the
word “diakonia” to describe Martha’s work of service. It means that she was looked, not so much as a person working around the house but rather as a person acting out hospitality in the service of the Church.
Perhaps the point that the Christian community within which the Gospel of Luke originated wanted to get across, based on their collective experience was that a disciples of Jesus needs to do both: to listen and to serve. And what does it mean to listen at the feet of Jesus? How can we do in a way that would empower us to become contemporary Good Samaritans? Certainly, the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or other devotion or
contemplative forms of prayer do help keep us grounded in this fast-paced world. But equally, we must listen attentively to the signs of the times. We are called to do that critically, intelligently, paying close attention to the voices from the peripheries. Such forms of sitting at the foot of Jesus may not be compatible with sloughing in a recliner in front of the TV screen broadcasting the news brought to you by the corporate sponsors whose
economic interests often diverge radically from the biblical values of justice, solidarity, and hospitality toward the poor, the widow, the orphan, “the other.” Deep listening at the feet of Jesus may have less to do with one’s devotional practices and more with that person’s willingness to see, feel, hear, and walk in the shoes of the poor and marginalized at home or abroad.
Listening to Jesus, in ways coherent with Luke’s Gospel compels us to exercise our freedom and refuse to be manipulated by the propaganda that tries to obscure the reality, that scapegoats the migrant children, that charges with crimes the Good Samaritans white justifying the cruelty and inhumanity. Working to heal and transform the world informed by the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus, challenges us to recognize how profoundly everything is connected. As an example, consider the U.S. support for the systemic injustice, democracy
squashing oppression and violence unleashed on the people of Central America over the last several decades and how those factors have shaped the current crisis in that region: the gang violence, corruption, drug trafficking, and forced migration. Help people to see the stark contradiction between those in power who, on one hand, speak about championing Pro-Life, while willfully promoting policies that lead to destruction of the only common
home we have and condemn to misery and death millions of people and countless generations of born and not-yet-born children. While that crime of the ultimate child abuse is being carried out, the desperately poor migrants fleeing violence, poverty and climate crisis are being labeled criminals and dealt with as a great threat to our national security. What kind of actions informed by deep listening to these and other signs of the
times we and our Churches are willing to undertake?
Jacek Orzechowski, OFM was born and grew up in Poland. After immigrating into the U.S. in 1988, he
joined Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province and obtained a Master of Divinity degree from
Washington Theological Union. After serving for nine years at the St. Camillus intercultural parish in
Silver Spring, M.D., he now ministers at the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of
Washington. Jacek also serves on Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Animation Committee of
the Franciscan Order.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.