Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: July 18, 16th Sunday Ord. Genesis 18:1-10a. Psalm 15:2-3,3-4.5.
Colossians 1:24-28. Luke 10:38-42:
Jesus had special friends like Martha and Mary and Lazarus. He spent some
time with them in their homes. Today’s Gospel gives us a good insight into
the intimacy and friendship he shared with the two sisters and their
brother Lazarus. Luke gives us a clear and coherent incident that shows us
that Jesus is a special friend to them and vice-versa. A friend is able to
speak the truth even when it may hurt. Friends can gently confront us and
we make some progress in a bad habit that no one else would tell us about.
We grow spiritually and psychological with such friendships.
Martha enjoyed such a close relationship with Jesus; it she who is center
stage with him in this story. She will be seen to be the one person who
unlocks the identity of Jesus by her proclamation in the Fourh Gospel that
shows she believes the Lord can do something for her brother who is now
dead for over three days. Martha gives us a confession of total faith in
Jesus: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,the Son of God, the
one coming into the world.” (John 11:27). Peter has this role in the
Synoptics, but Martha has it here and throughout chapter 11 of John.
We learn much from focusing on Martha rather than Mary who is sitting and
listening as a disciple of Jesus would do. Martha is open, sincere, and
offers her complaint to a dear friend, Jesus. She, afterall, did more in a
spirit of hospitality which is one of the great biblical virtues. Today
most mothers would identify themselves with what Martha is going through in
the many things they do for their families and children in a very fast
moving society of sports, technology, work. And even though Jesus tells
Martha that Mary has chosen the better part–all would have been deprived
of a good dinner and a pleasant setting had it not been for Martha.
Martha gets Jesus to listen! Mary does not. Jesus listens and calms her
with his words and his gestures. We are delighted to see her listening to
the active voice of Jesus that effects peace within her and causes Jesus to
listen to her. This is more the give and take that friends enjoy than
simply contemplating the guest of honor. We may ask from our viewpoint
whether Mary has really chosen the better part. We probably feel more
affinity with Martha. Three cheers for her in this delightful Gospel
passage! In fact, one ancient manuscript gives us a different translation
for this text: “She (Martha) had a sister named Mary who ALSO sat at the
Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.” We need to see who Martha
is from both Luke and from John to realize that maybe both sisters have
chosen the better part–friendship with Jesus! Amen.