Hospitality is key in many cultures; from an early age I was taught to be hospitable. Always to be polite, especially when visitors came around, my Mum’s friends were to be called aunty and uncle; even though I already had plenty of real aunts and uncles. My brothers and I were always expected to be on our best behaviour when visitors came around and we were expected to show respect to our elders. All of this was especially true if a priest came visiting;, then Mum would be fussing and making sure that everything was just right.
We see something similar in both Abraham and Martha in this week’s readings. Both are rushing around, getting things done ensuring their visitors feel welcome. In Abraham’s case his hospitality is rewarded; having been promised that he would have a great number of descendants and at a stage in life when Sarah; his wife; was passed the normal age to conceive; his visitors now confirm that she would bear him a son within the next year.
Poor Martha, was rushing around fussing and fretting, trying to make everything perfect for her guests, while her sister sat and listened to Jesus. How often do we get caught up in doing instead of being? Mary sat and spent time with Jesus, listening and learning, becoming a disciple. In our Church community we can get caught up in doing things instead of spending time with Jesus.
When Martha appealed to Jesus expecting sympathy and perhaps His support in getting Mary to help her; Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part, it is not to be taken from her.
For me this is a wake up call, I can often find myself caught up in doing things, sometimes connected with Church other times not. This can lead to my prayer time being rushed or even notional as I allow my busyness to interrupt my prayer with distractions like planning the next task or picking up a message during prayer time. I think for me Jesus is saying the better part is to spend quality time with Him, listening, learning and discerning. We are called to banish the distractions and enjoy being in the presence of Our Lord; for that is the better part. As Jesus tells Martha, we can worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed.
In both of these examples this week, those providing hospitality have been given something far greater than they were called to give. Abraham, became the Father of many nations. While Mary recognises that the visitor who came to her home did not need to be fed, instead He has fed the world through the Eucharist. When the community gathers to be fed by the Word and by the Eucharist, by the one who comes as guest – the Lord enters our lives by invitation, he does not force himself on us.
Abraham and Mary are ministered to, are fed and receive – just as Sunday after Sunday we too find ourselves received by the one who sets a table for us.1
This week, maybe we could ask ourselves what is stopping us spending more quality time with Jesus? Then consider what we need to do to ‘choose the better part’.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 2571: Abraham’s hospitality
CCC 2241: welcome the stranger
CCC 2709-2719: contemplation
CCC 618, 1508: sharing in Christ’s sufferings for his Body
CCC 568, 772: “the hope of glory” in the Church and in her sacraments
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- Fr Chris Whelan who is sick and Fr John & Fr Dominic who are having to make changes to support St Joseph’s at this time.
- Those being ordained to the Priesthood and Diaconate this weekend.
1 Robert Draper, Pastoral Review Vol 18 Issue 3,[Tablet Publishing, Twickenham, 2022]79.