Gen 18: 1-10; Col 1: 24-28; Luke 10:38-42
Today’s first reading Genesis presents the scene we see depicted, the famous icon by Andre Rublev. It depicts in three visitors dining on the meal Abraham has prepared for them. It is an image of the Trinity. It is an image of the Eucharistic banquet. It is a fore-image of the celestial banquet to which we all look forward. Notice the scene: all the characters are at rest, enjoying the moment.
When I was 12 I remember being a guest with my parents at a big, fat, Italian Sunday dinner. There were a lot of people. But there was one odd thing. The host never sat with us at table. She stood, hovering around the table, serving. I remember people protesting, urging the woman to sit down and join us. She was not part of the feast.
Today we see Martha in much the same situation. She is hosting the party, but she is not one with the party. She is not focused. She is not centered. She is in her home but she is not at home in it. Martha is irritated and distracted from her guests and certainly from her principal guest, Jesus. On top of it, she wants to draw Mary away from Jesus, the source of life, the life of the party.
How like us she is! We are a busy, distracted people. Bishop Barron notes this in his reflection on Martha. Martha is us. We are a people restless; our activities tcan mask our emptiness from ourselves. We can’t receive the communication of God who reveals himself today, resting, to Mary, who is also resting. “Come to me, you burdened, and I will give you rest.” Martha is, Luke says, “burdened.” She can’t see that her chief duty is to be present to her guest, to receive him. (Why didn’t they just hire a cook that night so they could both be focused on Jesus?) The point is that the quality of our presence to God matters a lot to God. A relationship with God requires receiving God with an undistracted self. A focused relationship says: ‘I love you enough to pay attention to you.’ It says, ‘you give me life.’ Like any relationship with another person, our relationship with God requires time, presence and silence, to wait on the Lord and receive him, to notice him there. Summer can be an ideal opportunity for this. Are you alert to God’s presence by the ocean, in the mountains, fishing at the lake, sitting in an easy chair in your living room or in your garden? If you are, this is ‘the better half’- because it gives you life. That life spills over to others. It’s what God wants. It builds the kingdom of God in our midst. Consider having a sip of wine with the Lord! He likes that. He was a winemaker himself!