Our readings this weekend call us to Gospel hospitality. In our reading from Luke, Jesus goes to visit His friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him, while Martha is busy fixing the meal. We aren’t told where Lazarus was. Those of us who have felt frustrated by a family member or a coworker who, from our perspective, is not pulling their own weight can understand Martha’s complaint: tell her to get moving and help me; there is a meal to be prepared. But, surprisingly, Jesus seems to side with Mary. What is going on?
Our first reading might help us understand. Being hospitable and welcoming, even to strangers, was a serious obligation both at the time of Abraham and at the time of Jesus. Providing food and drink is an essential part of hospitality and so what Martha was doing was
necessary. But Abraham also paid attention to the strangers: he sat and listened to them, he thanked them for giving him the opportunity to fulfil an obligation. In other words, he made them the center of attention. And that is what Mary was doing. So, it is not an either/or, but rather a both/and. In other words, while taking care of the needs of someone, we also need to pay attention to the person. Some examples:
The bottom line is remembering that all of us need warm, welcoming interactions to feel cared for, not just “things.” That is Gospel hospitality. Very often our elderly and homebound don’t need “things”: they need us.
I invite us to reflect this week on how well we do at Gospel hospitality. The best “thing” we can give someone is ourselves. God bless.
Church sign of the week: The best things in life aren’t things.
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