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A message for the week starting on Sunday 17 July 2022

Lectionary Week: 6th Sunday of Pentecost

Prescribed Texts: Amos 8:1-12, Psalms 52, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10: 38-42

Making Time for Jesus and Those in Need

Focus Text: Luke 10:38-42

We all know how frantically we clean when we know someone is coming to visit. We clean the kitchen. We also take out the good cutlery and the tea set (the one reserved for guests).

I assume that when Mary and Martha heard that Jesus was planning to visit, this would have been their reaction as well, probably discussing what food they would make. We read that Martha kept her end of the bargain, but the moment Jesus showed up, Mary went to go and sit at Jesus’ feet. Martha, knowing what she and Mary had discussed beforehand, was confused by Mary’s reaction and asks Jesus: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me”. Jesus responds: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

When reading this, one needs to take the previous events in Luke’s gospel into account. Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, where He would be crucified. We read in chapter 9 and 10 that:

  • Jesus predicts His death for the second time,
  • The Samaritan opposition,
  • Jesus warns the disciples that following Him would involve rejection,
  • He sends out the 72,
  • And the story of the good Samaritan.

If Jesus entered your house today, what would your reaction be? Would you want to make everything perfect? Would you take out the guest tea set? Or would you rather sit with Jesus?

Martha accepted Jesus as her guest with the hospitality that He longed for. Martha served Jesus as her guest, doing what is ‘right’ according to tradition. Martha is correct in her response to her guest. However, it was not what Jesus needed in that moment. He wanted someone to sit with Him, like Mary did.

Mary accepted Jesus as her guest in a way He preferred to be accepted. What Mary taught me, is that:

  • To be hospitable is not just serving people, but also to sit, listen and to embrace your guest, the stranger and the wronged,
  • To make time for people, irrespective if we think they are worthy of it,
  • Serving is sometimes to just be available for one another,
  • We need a deeply intimate relationship with God.

In my reflection on this story of Martha and Mary, I tend to reach a “midway” between Martha and Mary in our daily interaction with God and with one another. We need to embrace our busy lives, but we also need to make time like Mary to sit at the feet of Jesus.

To think about:   What are you doing for the needy who are within your reach? HIV has been put on the backburner for various reasons. Yet our statistics indicate that it must remain centre stage.

Written by: Rev. Conroy Terblanche, URCSA Minister, trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator