Growing up in a small Kentucky town exposed me to the stereotypical family dinner every Sunday evening and the practice of southern hospitality. Today’s readings are about service and hospitality.
In today’s first reading we see an example of Abraham and Sarah serving and providing hospitality to three men. The meal was carefully prepared, and the hosts attended to the visitors’ comfort. In the second reading, we find Paul serving the Lord in preaching, prayer, travel, suffering, and writing. We have lots of examples of people of faith who were active in the service of the Lord and the practice of hospitality.
Every three years on this Sunday we hear this brief gospel story of Martha and Mary. Nearly every year we hear about Martha busy being hospitable. The homilist usually gives the same advice. We should seek to be more like Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus and less like Martha who is always busy, anxious and worried about many things.
So, what do today’s readings teach us: 1) Service and hospitality are essential to being Christian. 2) Comparing ourselves to others like Martha breeds anxiety and discontent. 3) Martha took her concerns to Jesus. 4) Making time for prayer sitting at the feet of Jesus should be a daily priority.
How well do I balance serving and sitting (praying) in my life?
Carl Middleton is a theologian/ethicist and a member of the Passionist Family.