Marian SW Student - Brigidine Day Reflection
On Wednesday 4 September, Marian College Sunshine West celebrated Brigidine Day with mass attended by the entire school community and representatives from the Trustees of Kildare Ministries and Kildare Education Ministries. During mass, Year 12 student Valerie Luey shared a reflection on Hospitality in response to the readings from Genesis (18:1-4) and the Gospel of Luke (10:38-42). The reflection was of such high calibre and so thought-provoking it had to be shared more widely. Congratulations to Marian College and Valerie for engaging with the 2019 value of Hospitality: 'Welcoming All' with such depth and courage.
Reflection on the Readings
Most of us know the prayer “Grace before Meals”, however, an alternative to that was used a long time ago reads,
“Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let this food to us be blessed”
How about that!
The prayer actually asks Jesus to come and be our guest.
What would it mean to prepare a place at our table, in our home, in our lives, into which Jesus would come?
What would it mean to receive Him with hospitality?
Receiving God as a guest is the primary point of our readings today.
In the first reading we hear of the effort Abraham goes to to welcome God. He “runs’ to meet the visitors, he “hurries” to the tent to tell his wife Sarah to make bread, “runs” to the herd and his servant “hurries” to prepare the meat. There certainly is much “busyness” in the reading.
We now turn to Luke where hospitality is a very important theme throughout the Gospel.
When Jesus comes to Bethany, Martha demonstrates hospitality by welcoming Jesus into her home that she shares with her sister Mary. She too like Abraham busies herself with the tasks of serving their guest.
Meanwhile her sister Mary sits at Jesus’s feet, listening to his words. Rather than assuming the role expected of women in her culture, she takes her place at the feet of Jesus. She assumes the posture of a student learning at the feet of a rabbi, a role traditionally reserved for men.
The pleasant story takes a sharp turn when Martha, distracted by her many tasks snaps and asks,
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”
Many who read or hear this story may cheer for Mary in her inversion of traditional roles. Many may also empathize with Martha’s resentment of her sister for leaving her to do all the work. Jesus’ response to Martha seems less than empathetic, chiding her for her distraction and worry, and praising Mary:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her”
The problem with Martha is not that she is busy serving and providing hospitality. Certainly Jesus commends this kind of service to the neighbour many times, notably in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The problem with Martha is not her serving, but rather that she is worried and distracted.
Martha’s distraction and worry leave no room for the most important aspect of hospitality, that being, gracious attention to the guest. In fact, she breaks all the rules of hospitality by trying to embarrass her sister in front of her guest, and by asking her guest to intervene in a family dispute. She even goes so far as to accuse Jesus of not caring about her. (Lord, do you not care…?).
Martha’s worry and distraction prevent her from being truly present with Jesus. She has missed out on the “one thing needed” for true hospitality. There is no greater hospitality than listening to your guest.
There are a number of parallels in our two readings:
- Abraham and Martha show their love for the Lord by taking an active role by doing. Mary shows her love by sitting at his feet and listening to him.
- Abraham and Martha see and respond, Mary hears and responds.
Perhaps the key to understanding this dichotomy is to emphasize, not the active or passive role of the one who loves, but his or her responsiveness to the needs of the other. Jesus, on the other hand, needs Mary and Martha to keep him company and to listen. The best love is that which tailors its response to the needs of the other.
The better part that Mary has cho