Commentary on the Gospel of
My hometown parish features beautiful stained glass windows depicting various stories from the gospels. When I was a young girl my favorite window to sit near and explore was the window featuring Martha and Mary during the visit of Jesus to their home. I found solace in the images of strong women relating to Jesus and I could easily put myself in the scene which is now what I understand to be Ignatian contemplative prayer.
Many times when I hear the story from today’s gospel from Luke I relate to Mary who is so willing to drop everything to listen to the teaching of Jesus. I love Jesus and his wisdom. Yet today when I pray with the gospel I find myself being annoyed by Jesus “mansplaining” to Martha about how she should calm down.
Mansplaining is a contemporary term that describes a man explaining something in a condescending or patronizing manner. While I understand that Jesus was trying to be helpful to Martha, he could have delivered the message in a more caring way by acknowledging the necessary hard work she was doing to run the household and be a good hostess.
The first verse of the psalm speaks to the importance of really seeing someone and acknowledging their gifts: O LORD, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar.
While it is true that Martha might have been a bit too wrapped up in some of the household duties, I wonder how her heart may have softened if she had a sense that Jesus understood what she was trying to accomplish. And I wonder how she may have reacted if he had gently coaxed her into shifting her priorities.
Today’s gospel challenges me to look at my own priorities. When do I get too caught up in the details of life forgetting to focus my thoughts and my actions on what is truly important, the word of God? How can I gently and respectfully invite others to step away from life’s trivial worries that get in the way of living in God’s grace? How can I show someone that I truly see them and am interested in learning about their gifts? When do I hear God’s voice in the busyness of my daily life?
Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.